Of all the challenges that come with teaching virtually, one of the biggest and most persistent is engaging students online in distance learning.
Virtual learning, especially for students accustomed to in-person instruction, requires a completely different set of skills. To learn successfully in this environment, students must be fully present while online and self-motivated outside of class time. That’s a tall order for many students, especially for younger children and those with learning differences. Even the most dedicated scholars can fall victim to distraction during virtual learning.
Top Three Skills for Distance Learning
Just like in the physical classroom, your students bring a variety of skills and challenges to the virtual classroom. It’s important to remember that skills can be learned and challenges can be overcome. As an educator, you can encourage your students to become successful distance learners by developing three key skills:
Without the regular routine of an in-person classroom, time management is critical to navigating virtual learning. Depending on grade level, it’s possible to guide your students in developing time management practices. Often, parents are also working at home and trying to juggle their own online schedules in addition to those of their children. Help them out by communicating the expectations you have for your students and providing time management tips for students.
While it’s true that young people are digital natives, there is a big difference between being able to operate a smartphone and having basic computer skills. Understanding how to navigate the Internet, download software, and create and share documents are important abilities. You can help your students get up to speed with these skills by incorporating them into your lesson plans.
Motivation and Independence
While these aren’t “skills” in the truest sense of the word, they are qualities that go a long way toward success in virtual learning. Internal motivation develops throughout a person’s lifetime, as does confidence and independence. You can encourage these qualities through practical classroom strategies designed to reinforce their development.
Engaging Students Online During Class Time
As a teacher, you don’t have much control over what happens during the hours and days that your students aren’t in the virtual classroom. However, there is plenty you can do to encourage engagement during virtual class time.
This is where your PBIS initiative can help to reinforce the kinds of behaviors that help students to stay focused. Yes, you can absolutely use PBIS in the virtual classroom!
Using PBIS to reward virtual behaviors means you may need to revamp your behavior matrix to include your distance learning environment. Spend some time evaluating the virtual behaviors that you want to improve and then focus on these behaviors at a granular level. Awarding points for small but positive behaviors can have the cumulative effect of greater focus and engagement from your students.
What About Points?
As your students earn points for meeting virtual expectations, their points balances will grow. What fun is it to have points and not be able to spend them?
In an in-person classroom, students typically spend their accumulated points in the school store. Many of the items in the school store are tangible, physical items, or are intangibles that don’t make sense in a distance learning environment. The good news, however, is that you can create a virtual store with incentives for distance learning.
Using PBIS Rewards During Virtual Learning
Managing an online classroom takes dedication and organization. Awarding and tracking points for positive behaviors may feel like additional effort, but it doesn’t have to be.
When you use a digital token economy, awarding and tracking points is simple. You don’t have the challenge of paper tickets, and you don’t have to track points manually. When it comes to redeeming points, students can use every point they’ve earned and not have to worry about misplaced tickets.
Take the management of your PBIS initiative to the next level with PBIS Rewards software. Now, you can recognize and reward students no matter what your classroom looks like. PBIS Rewards can be adapted to in-person, virtual, and hybrid learning environments with ease. You can even set up a virtual school store to allow students to redeem their points for virtual rewards and privileges.
Want to see how it works? Request a demo!