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According to Census.gov, due to COVID-19, nearly 93% of US households with school-aged children have experienced some form of remote learning in 2020. 

In some parts of the country, school districts are still closed to in-person learning, and all learning is taking place remotely. Many others are open, but offer remote alternatives or hybrid models that involve at least part-time remote learning. Even those that are fully open have struggled with the impact of outbreaks or extensive quarantines. 

While remote and hybrid learning isn’t a new concept, it has been enforced en masse almost overnight due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For superintendents, principals, and district administrators working to support students during these unprecedented times, it’s difficult to provide the context for students to complete the same curriculum that would normally be supported in a classroom. Continue reading as we explain how you can set and manage goals in a remote or hybrid learning setting.

Helping Students Take Responsibility for Their Own Learning

Self-regulation is a vital skill for students to manage and control their own learning. It’s a key element of education that has become increasingly important during the pandemic with students at home for at least part of the week in most districts. By focusing on the three phases of self-regulation – forethought, performance, and self-reflection – students can develop a better skill set for analyzing tasks and developing plans to achieve them, observing their own progress, and reflecting on performance after a task is completed. 

The first step towards self-regulation is helping students set clear, measurable goals. Examples include:

  • Defining the Duration of a Task: Clearly defining how long a task should take and what steps are involved in completing it. Computer literacy and device type vary between students, especially those who are younger, so it’s important to communicate how long a task might take and to be flexible with those expectations. 
  • Providing Specific, Quantifiable Goals for Assignments: Make it explicitly clear what needs to be completed and when it should be completed. This should include a due date and a means by which students can be held accountable to each other – for example, publicly posting it to a shared message board or an assignment submission feed. 
  • Provide Ample Examples: For younger children especially this may be the first time they are using computers so extensively. Provide examples of what successfully completed work looks like, provide detailed instructions that clarify potential questions, and involve parents in the assignment process. Embedded screencasts of the teacher describing and demonstrating key activities better engage students and improve focus. In such an unprecedented situation, there is no such thing as too much communication. 

Adapting Goal Setting Techniques to Provide Equity for Remote Learners

American teachers are taught classroom management in their degree programs, participate in student teaching programs, and are mentored by teacher leads. Curricula provides lesson plans, standards, achievements, quizzes, essays, and other assessments to help educators gauge student learning.

Remote learning, however, is deeply affected by factors that teachers cannot control, especially the socio-economic status of their students.

A Los Angeles Times survey reported that low-income students are struggling the most with remote learning during this pandemic. Before the pandemic, there was already a 25% gap between children of parents with college degrees and those with only high school diplomas. In a remote environment, some students without adequate access to computers, internet connectivity, private learning space, or who lack technological expertise, are falling behind in the midst of COVID-19 learning.

The best way to adjust goals during remote learning is to ask for feedback from students and parents. In some localities, for example, expecting students to log onto video conferencing classes may not be feasible due to limited technology and internet access. For these students, an anytime, anywhere supplemental learning option can help them connect to online lessons from libraries, family members’ houses, or friends’ houses at a time that is convenient for them. 

This flexibility allows them to stay on track with learning while accommodating their technology access limitations. By creating a communication feedback loop with educators, districts, students, and parents, school districts are better able to adapt their remote learning goals to the unique realities of their students, instead of implementing a one-size-fits-all district-wide or state-wide model that leaves the most vulnerable students further behind.

5 Remote Learning Goals to Implement for Your Students

In the Spring of 2020 when it was evident that remote learning would be here to stay – at least through the pandemic – the state of Tennessee met to create remote learning goals for its students. Five core concepts they identified include:

  1. Creating and expanding access to remote learning technologies, including laptop computers, Chromebooks, and internet connectivity – especially in rural or lower-income areas. EdWeek found in a February 2020 survey that 57% of teachers said their students each had a device. This isn’t nearly enough to support widescale remote work. Many districts have worked hard to make this a reality, buying thousands of devices in the last nine months. 
  2. Creating communication feedback loops between all teachers and students so that the educator-learner partnership could be fully fostered and students achieve better outcomes.
  3. Creating distant learning routines and procedures to help remote learners adjust to a new normal of what remote school looks and feels like in the midst of a global pandemic.
  4. Providing teachers with the curricula resources and strategies to teach asynchronously, including supplemental virtual materials that reinforce what’s being learned in the video conference classroom.
  5. Put in place procedures to support students with unique needs that are usually met during in-class instruction, including special education for students with disabilities, and emotional support for students via student counseling

Tell Us How Your School or District is Adjusting to Remote Learning

Remote learning in the midst of a global pandemic is an ever-changing process. We would love to hear how you – a district administrator, educator, parent, or student – are adapting to this new normal, as well as what support you need in order to better succeed. Leave a comment below.