Feeling Overwhelmed? Tips for a Smooth Transition to Online Instruction

From Methods to Madness: Ideas for a Sane Teaching Experience online instruction

In this unprecedented time it has been incredible to see so many teachers quickly jump into action and embrace online teaching! 

There are so many wonderful lists, Google docs, videos (be sure to preview), forums, and links to online resources. That being said, it is easy to feel overwhelmed about where to start and how to proceed. Just like when teaching in person, it is essential to take care of yourself during this time.

Here are a few things to keep in mind: 

  1. Set aside a limited amount of time to “surf” through resources. At the end of that time pick a few options that will work for you and proceed. Don’t try to do too much at the beginning while schools, teachers, students, and families are adapting to so many changes. Less can be more as you get started. 
  2. Be flexible and adapt as needed. If it is working, keep using it! If what you are doing is not working, give yourself permission to change what you are doing. 
  3. Be honest with your students. “Hey, this is new for everyone. We are going to try this and see how it works!” 
  4. Listen to your students and use your best judgement. Just like when we are in the physical classroom, we need to watch and listen to our students for feedback and then proceed with our best plan using our expertise and best judgement.
  5. Give yourself grace. If things do not go as planned or are not working it is okay! We are all trying new things and the students are as well. Do not compare yourself to other teachers. Do what works for you and your students.
  6. Give your students grace. Remember that students are in unknown territory, too. They might be juggling sibling babysitting responsibilities and they are trying to do school work in a variety of home environments. Working parents might be juggling a lot of information from multiple teachers for each child. Unless you teach in a one to one school, many students will be sharing a computer at home or have limited resources. Find some learning activities that don’t involve screens! 
  7. Follow your school policies for this situation. Each state and school is set up differently to handle online learning. Protect yourself professionally by following the requirements for your situation. 
  8. Practice good personal self care. Get regular sleep, regular exercise, healthy nutrition, and set regular work hours. It is easy to feel like we need to be constantly available when we are teaching online and this is not the case. Set aside certain hours you will respond to student questions, etc. This will need to vary depending on your school’s requirements. Connect with other colleagues – you don’t have to navigate this alone! 
  9. Set aside regular breaks plus an extended time each day to be away from your screen! Most online teachers and telecommuters will tell you that working through a screen requires a different type of focus and energy than in person communication. 
  10. Try to have fun! Teaching is fun. Embrace the best parts even in this new format. Make sure your students know that you care about them. Even if you are not using video/live formats, a short video sent out saying “Hi” can be reassuring to students and provide a personal connection for you and them. Our attitude and leadership will help set the tone for our students! 
Becky Bush

Becky Bush, Orchestra Director at Jenison Public Schools in Jenison, Michigan, was String Acquisition Editor and Suzuki Strategist at Alfred Music Publishing, Adjunct Professor of Music Education at Grand Valley State University and Calvin College, St. Cecilia Music Center Youth Orchestra Director, and founder of the Hudsonville Public Schools orchestra program. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Grand Valley State University, she has presented sessions at The Midwest Clinic, The National ASTA Conference, state music conventions, and has been an active guest conductor.

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