Skip To Content

    19 Smart Hacks For Distance Learning That Teachers Swear By

    These tricks can definitely help.

    If you're currently teaching remotely, you might really miss your in-person classroom (and students) a lot right now.

    Paramount / Via i.imgur.com

    From screen burnout to technical difficulties, it can be really tough to be a teacher right now. That's why we've rounded up some of the internet's best virtual teaching advice, including some tips from the BuzzFeed Community. Here's what you can do:

    1. Try to focus on things you *can* control, versus how your school district is handling things.

    2. Be real with your students in admitting that is a challenge for you, so they know what to expect.

    Sandra Oh as a stressed-out teacher on SNL.
    NBC

    "I find that being transparent with the students helps keep me sane. They understand why I may need an extra couple of minutes to get my materials together." —steph315

    3. Carve out time to let the kids socialize before and after class.

    The first and last 10 minutes of online class are sacred. This time has been carved out specifically to TALK and build positive relationships with my scholars. We listen, laugh, and love in this space. #RelationshipsMatter #distancelearning

    Twitter: @TeachMrReed

    "I (and my co-teacher) end up doing a lot more projects online than in person. The kids end up being more engaged and sometimes they create bonding opportunities within families. We also allow students in a bit early to socialize and sometimes will let them stay late to socialize if we have time." —skipnees

    4. Use red and green cards so your students can wordlessly wave you down in a Zoom class without disrupting everyone else.

    A stack of red, yellow, and green cards
    amazon.com

    "I love using red and green cards with my students. With all of the technology issues, someone always has a problem while I am teaching. Instead of stopping my lesson to help one student, they hold up a red card. It also works when giving directions. If they understand the directions, they hold up a green card and I can let them go to do their work. If they don’t understand, they hold up a red card. That way, my green students do not have to spend extra time hearing all of the questions of the red students. (Which, most of the time, is just asking where to access something or why their password isn’t working.)" —jackiel4fdeb989c

    5. Record all the times you're directly teaching to the class so no one misses anything.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    "I teach online and in-person at the same time. To say I am overwhelmed is a huge understatement. One thing that helps me the most is making videos of the direct-teach part of the lesson and posting them for everyone. You can use Screencastify and turn it into an EdPuzzle, put the videos in a slides presentation, or simply post them in Google Classroom. It gives me more time to focus on my kids, virtual and in-person, while ensuring that nobody misses anything because it's all recorded where kids have access." —flwrmm

    6. Use ed-tech to your advantage and incorporate pre-made slide decks into your curriculum.

    The Nearpod dashboard.
    nearpod.com

    "Use interactive slides (like Nearpod or Pear Deck) to deliver your lessons remotely. The questions in between information slides can replace discussions for students that don’t want to unmute as well as hold a student's participation accountable for those that also don’t turn on their cameras. Plus, the reports at the end can cover your actions for grading and record-keeping." —ashleym50

    7. Create a setup that's comfortable for you — and keeps you fully visible to your students.

    8. Use a document camera to easily show and mark up text in real-time.

    A document camera
    Amazon / Via amazon.com

    "One of the most helpful things has been using a document camera to teach virtual and in-person students. While I teach using the doc cam, my co-teacher circulates and monitors the in-person kids." —mssbelayet

    Get it from Amazon for $93.99.

    9. Know how to mute students (when you need to!) in lectures and small discussions.

    The cast of SNL on a Zoom call
    NBC

    If you're co-teaching, that means making sure the settings give you co-hosting (or muting) capabilities.

    10. Provide your students with different options to submit their work for grading.

    Daveed Diggs playing a teacher in the film Wonder
    Lionsgate / Via youtube.com

    "Offer students multiple ways to complete assignments. Mine can choose between Google Classroom, online learning platforms like IXL and Reading Plus, virtual meetings, and paper packets (I just print what's on Google Classroom). Not every approach will work for every child. I even had one student who rejected all those learning paths and earned his science credits by creating a garden!" —iconoclast35

    11. Stick to your normal, in-person schedule, especially in the mornings.

    Pro-Tip for Remote Learning: 1. STICK TO A SCHEDULE -If you are used to waking up at 7:00 a.m. on your in-person days, continue this when you are doing remote learning. Use the extra time in the morning to get ahead of school work and contact teachers 👌🏼

    Twitter: @coachsakellaris

    12. If possible, Zoom from your actual classroom for a touch of normalcy.

    13. Encourage parental figures to designate a space at home just for learning — ideally one that involves a desk or table.

    A student's at-home desk with sensory chair.
    corgifrenzy / Via buzzfeed.com

    "Parents: please set up a 'school' space for the kids at home. The elementary kids that start a Zoom sitting on the couch are horizontal within minutes." —AB

    14. Use inclusive language, especially when you're not sure about every student's home life or background.

    My 5 year old’s kindergarten teacher doesn’t refer to the kids’ mom or dad (or even parents) - she refers to “your grown ups.” It’s such a kind, inclusive way to assume nothing & include all sorts of caregiving & family arrangements. I love it 😊

    Twitter: @nursekelsey

    15. If you notice a student is missing some assignments and it's starting to become a pattern, shoot their caretaker(s) a quick email.

    Soul Pancake

    "A few of my son’s teachers send regular notes or emails if something is missing or he got a really low grade. I appreciate this communication because it is clear." —benevolentspirit

    16. Find low-effort ways to keep students engaged before class starts, like asking them for "boring" facts.

    My new favorite thing is asking my class to share a boring fact about themselves (way too much pressure to share an interesting fact). Today I shared I don’t like mayo on sandwiches. One student puts both socks on before putting on shoes. Another eats a pound of turkey each day.

    Twitter: @daviddeweil

    17. Make sure your kids (and their grownups) know they still need to treat this like a classroom — all the normal rules of respect apply here.

    NBC / Via giphy.com

    "Parents, please remind your kids that they should still show us teachers respect. Just because I can’t send your kid to detention doesn’t mean they get to act like everything I ask is optional." —katb4aebac39f

    18. Adjust your grading standards in general — because this is hard on students, too.

    Reminder that kids are not "falling behind" academically during these crazy times. Standards, benchmarks, and accountability measures are all arbitrarily created by schools and can just as easily be readjusted as needed.

    Twitter: @stumpteacher

    19. Lastly, give yourself the space and permission to relax when you can.

    What's helped you most when it comes to teaching or learning from a distance? Share in the comments! ✏️

    *Note: Some answers have been lightly edited for length or clarity.

    Want awesome DIY tips in your inbox three times a week? Sign up for the BuzzFeed DIY newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form