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July 23, 2020

Succeed at Online Teaching: 5 Ways to Navigate Share My Lesson's Distance Learning Community

Explore the 5 best ways to navigate the Share My Lesson Distance Learning Community and discover practical ways to improve your virtual classroom.


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The 5 Best Ways to Engage with the Share My Lesson Distance Learning Community

I’ve been proud to call myself a member of the AFT Share My Lesson team for two years now, and the remarkable work this team continues to do is a constant source of inspiration in the mercurial world to which we find ourselves constantly adjusting. As a team, we planned to tackle 2020 with new, innovative content, upgrades and ways to make our community thrive; however, we had no idea that everything would be sent into a tailspin by an ongoing public health crisis.

Back in January (has it already been that long?), we had one thing on our agenda as COVID-19, the soon-to-be pandemic, swept across the globe: How can we, as an educator-driven platform, organize an organic and meaningful response for our community?

We began with what is now one of the most popular sources of information on Share My Lesson: The Coronavirus Lesson Plan and Resource Collection. But as the crisis escalated, we realized a more rigorous response was needed.

Distance learning was quickly gaining traction, and many educators, school staff and parents began contemplating what education would look like in the coming months as schools quickly shut down in response to the spread of COVID-19. There was no denying it—distance learning was becoming the way forward, so we collaborated with our partners to find new, engaging ways to provide support for the Share My Lesson community.

Our team, always focused on providing new ways for members to connect, inspire and improve, laid the groundwork for what has now become the Share My Lesson Distance Learning Community. This free feature—an overarching, interdisciplinary resource behemoth for educators, school staff and parents—became a way for our community to not only engage with remote learning, but also to discover a spectrum of resources that offer practical and convenient ways to dive into the world of distance learning and education. We’ve built a rich catalog of free, on-demand professional development webinars for credit; original blogs with reliable tips from fellow educators and parents; lesson plans, activities and resources to engage students virtually; learning-at-home resources for parents and students; how to protect student safety and privacy on Zoom; and fresh resources for new and veteran teachers alike to use in the new school year.

Our team wanted to highlight how this evolving community is progressing, and how these free, curated resources have developed into something we hope will be a potent tool for educators to use in the new, and most likely unpredictable, academic year. We invite you to explore the following content highlights and tips on navigating the Share My Lesson Distance Learning Community.

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Click on the box above to explore the distance learning comunity!

Building a Distance Learning Community: Invest in Free Professional Development

Over the years, Share My Lesson has become a hub for free lesson plans, resources and activities for educators, but did you know about our expanding collection of free, on-demand webinars that can qualify for professional development credit? You can check out our featured webinars here, and don’t forget to check out the 2020 Summer of Learning Series and our 2020 Virtual Conference webinars.

In the Share My Lesson Distance Learning Community, we strive to continually update and add to our collection to offer the best webinars for our community to thrive as we head into the new academic year. Whether you seek to respond to racial injustice and construct an online anti-racist classroom; find ways to engage with self-care and mental health; discover strategies for a successful distance learning experience; or work with special populations during this turbulent time, we’ve picked some of our favorites for you to sample:

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Tip: You can filter through different content on the left-hand side bar.

Coronavirus Resources and Lesson Plans for Distance Learning

Our mega-collection of coronavirus resources, from the start, has been focused on educators and school staff, but has evolved into a forum in which parents and students also can find useful information. Stay on top of developments on the COVID-19 pandemic, and discover lesson plans, blogs, webinars, printable tip sheets, and more to keep your school and community safe, engaged and knowledgeable.

SEL, Trauma-Informed and Stress Resources for the Virtual Classroom

Being cooped up for months on end isn’t the ideal situation for any adult or child. We know that our current environment is taking a toll on the mental health of your students and on many adults. To assist you during these challenging times, we curated content with resources on supporting social emotional needs, stress and incorporating trauma-informed practices not only in pedagogy but in daily life. Search through these free resources and discover ways to lift yourself and your students up.

Resources for Assisting Special Populations

This has been a time of distress for many students and families that work with special populations. Share My Lesson has curated free resources to provide meaningful options and ideas for special education and English language learners during the COVID-19 pandemic:

[Blog: How My Child's Special Ed Teacher Helped Me Prepare for COVID-19]

distance learning community and special populations: children in a class

Distance Learning Community: Succeeding at Virtual Education and Learning at Home

Looking to meet the educational needs of children during the pandemic while working from home? Look no further! Whether your school is reopening this fall or going virtual, we’ve collected excellent and exciting resources, separated by grade level for students in either setting. We also have resources for parents to assist with transitioning and sustaining a successful distance learning environment, as well as blogs from some of our own team members on their experiences with juggling distance learning with remote work and a full household.

So, what next? As we navigate this new era of education and the upcoming academic year, many of us as educators, parents or students are wondering: Is this really the new norm? Will we ever go back to what we all described as “normal”? Perhaps not; however, we know you will continue to inspire, educate and make a difference wherever you are during these unprecedented times. With a continued sense of resilience, we know we can succeed in building a distance learning community where educators and parents can unite to find solutions and collaborate to ensure the success of all our students and children. Join us, and let us know how we can best support your needs as you navigate the distance learning classroom.

Andy Kratochvil

Andy Kratochvil is an SML team member who loves hiking, scary books, Mexican food, and finding great content for the Share My Lesson community.He studied political science and French at California State University, Fullerton and received his Master’s in International Affairs from American University

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