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[Teacher Tips] 6 Strategies for Combating Virtual Learning Fatigue

[Teacher Tips] 6 Strategies for Combating Virtual Learning Fatigue

Even the most experienced virtual teachers will agree that spending hours in front of a computer day in and day out can be exhausting. While it's normal (and advised!) to take a break and unplug, virtual learning fatigue strikes even the best of us. Unfortunately, for our students, virtual learning fatigue can lead to burnout or complete disengagement.

If you’re looking for advice to help you and your students, look no further than Edmentum’s experienced EdOptions Academy teachers! We recently asked a handful of instructors to share some of their best tips, tricks, and insights to help you alleviate burnout and keep students motivated. Here’s what they had to say:

Set clear expectations and procedures for how to work in an online environment

“How many years did we teach kids that when you went into a building—this is how you walk in the halls; this is where you put your lunch; this is where you hang up your jacket; this is how you raise your hand; this is where we put our papers? And now, here I am. Well, where do I put my paper? Or how do I raise my hand? Well, I'm lost. How do I even find you? And so, we just assumed that they're good at technology. It's not the same thing.”

– Diane McRandal, Edmentum EOA Mentor teacher, health and physical education teache,r and 2019 EdOptions Academy Educator of the Year

“We saw tons of students who had no online experience. This meant that they needed to learn how to be successful with online school—not only the academic part but also things like social norms, how to behave in Zoom meetings, and how to properly email and text with a teacher.”

– Julie Donick, social studies teacher with EdOptions Academy

 

Build connections among students and teachers

“The pandemic has many parents concerned for their student's social and emotional health. For this reason, I have created ‘Friday Lunch Bunch Zoom’ meetings. Kindergarteners can gather for lunch and talk among themselves to ensure more social interaction. The teachers also read stories and play games during this time. It is designed to keep students feeling positive and to have fun.”

– Karah Galmiche, Kindergarten teacher with EdOptions Academy

“The best way to reengage students is to make learning fun and connect with them. As for my K–2 and grade 5 students, I do daily check-ins and meet with them and their learning guides. My partner teacher and I also hosted virtual events, and the students loved them.”

– Rhina Odom, elementary teacher with EdOptions Academy

“Balancing that communication-connectivity piece, as well as monitoring your progress, it is a blend, you know, because I have to build that relationship with the students so that they connect to me as well as the subject, because it has to be to me first.”

– Diane McRandal

 

Recognize the social-emotional impact of the pandemic, and provide support or resources

“My students have been deeply impacted by the pandemic in every facet of their lives. I often get messages from students and parents about their entire families testing positive, losing loved ones, or about the challenges they face with balancing virtual school and life. Furthermore, many of my students were also impacted by two devasting hurricanes while positivity was rising throughout their communities. Some families lost everything, and they continually struggle with the impacts of the hurricanes, while also trying to protect their families. One of the major struggles I am working through is trying to help (and motivate) my students and parents to log in.”

– Jessica Bean, English teacher with EdOptions Academy

 

Keep a close eye on student progress

“Using our tools in Courseware and all the bells and whistles that are in there, I can see who's skipping things; I can see who's skipping around; I can see who's bogged down. And to me, that's the first hint. I want to be on that early. Because if you're getting bogged down early, you're going to shut down on me, and then I am chasing you, you know, so if I can see you're struggling, I can reach out now and build that scaffolding to support what's confusing to you. If I can build that success early, then I've got an easier road at the end, you know, but using those tools is so important.”

– Diane McRandal

 

Engage parents and caregivers, especially those of young learners

“Communication is key! I know that sounds cliché, but especially with elementary students, having their parents and families involved is a game changer. Many times, we focus too much on student relationships and not enough with their parents or guardians. Once there is buy-in from parents, the children follow. Being innovative, flexible, and showing empathy during these times is of the utmost importance. Assuming the best in people is the best way to go. Disengagement doesn’t always have to mean not showing up. A student can come to class every single day on time and be disengaged, while another student may not be able to attend live sessions and be completely engaged. At the end of the day, ensuring that there is a village helping to educate each student is the best intervention. It can be a parent, grandparent, sibling, etc. But, having that accountability at home is key.”

– Franchesca Guzman, elementary teacher with EdOptions Academy

 

Communicate frequently, consistently, and persistently

“A fellow [EdOptions Academy] teacher and I designed a monthly communication plan that leaves no stone unturned. It makes sure that we have multiple attempts to reach students and a high success rate of communication. When we cannot reach a student by the end of the month, we get the school involved, reaching out to make sure they are aware and to see if they have additional information for us. Start early, and communicate with parents and the school. Don’t wait until it is too late to make a difference for the student.”

– Julie Donick

“Instead of focusing on the problem, find out why they are disengaged. Check in with your students, or give their learning guides a call. Ask them how they’re doing. When you know how they’re doing, you’ll find better ways to help them with schoolwork. No matter how challenging it gets, don’t ever give up on your students.”

– Rhina Odom

“The most successful strategy I have employed is communicating regularly with disengaged students. A simple text or message checking in with them and letting them know you care can be powerful. As well, it is helpful to not focus on the negatives—like they have not logged on for three weeks—and just focus on how they can succeed. Try to make contact as soon as you can, and check in with those students more frequently. Sometimes, students just need someone to be in their corner and let them know that someone believes in them."

 – Jessica Bean

While there are still so many unknowns about the temporary widespread shift to virtual learning, teachers continue to evolve their approach to creatively engage students and prevent burnout. Learn more about what Edmentum’s EdOptions Academy teachers have to offer!

Interested in additional resources to make sure that you and your students will be successful with your virtual, hybrid, or blended learning program? Check out our Hybrid and Virtual Learning Success Kit, where we have gathered our top blog posts, checklists, and more, all for you and all in one place!

debbie.crawford's picture
Debbie Crawford

Debbie Crawford joined the Edmentum team in 2019. With ten years of experience in marketing and fundraising, she has established a reputation as a creative problem-solver with an upbeat "let's get it done" attitude. She grew up in a rural Texas town and was the first in her family to attend college, which ignited her passion for education and for educators who do everything possible to inspire students to keep learning.