Part III- Distance Learning Strategies for Teachers 

How do we prepare for the upcoming school year? This is a question I have been asking myself a lot as a parent and a teacher. Last week, we discussed how parents could help their child prepare for the upcoming school year. The topic this week is strategies to help teachers prepare for distance learning.

I think we have realized that effective online teaching is not just about giving teachers and students access to all of the needed technology. In order to teach online, teachers must learn all new tools. The teacher is still the content expert, but they are suddenly unable to deliver that content in the same way. This requires teachers to dive into the huge undertaking of reworking all of their lessons in order to make them compatible with distance learning. 

What Does it Mean for Teachers to Prepare for Distance Learning?

At Parrish Learning Zone, this had been a constant consideration as we began implementing online tutoring. For schools who serve many more students, often with diverse needs, quite a few considerations have to be taken at a system level. Once a consistent plan is implemented, teachers are the “frontline” of distance learning.

We all realize that distance learning may not be exactly like in person learning. However, with preparation time, it is possible to make it as effective. It is important to note that online learning should follow the same high-quality and effective structure as in-person learning. There needs to be instruction, modeling, ungraded practice and collaboration, and then an opportunity to demonstrate what has been learned through a relevant project or assignment.This means that distance learning is not just moving the assignments that you would be doing in-person online instead. Online learning should never feel like a student is teaching themselves.

We must instead figure out how to make online instruction collaborative so that it involves interaction with other students and the instructor. Online learning is not sufficient when it is simply slides or worksheets assigned online. Just like with effective in-person instruction, students must be presented with choice and a variety of ways to learn a concept. Games, live videos, sorts, simulations, and discussions can all be implemented in an online format.Teachers can: 

  • Use tools like Flipgrid or Seesaw to have students explain what they have learned, present, or show their work. 
  • Bring speakers or authors into our classrooms that would not normally be able to visit in person using video conferencing.
  • Engage students in project-based learning online by doing things such as creating a blog or a photo essay. 
  • Break students into groups and subgroups and meet with them using video conferencing. Use subgroups to focus on equity and providing additional attention and instruction to English language learners and students with special learning needs.
  • Have a consistent routine so that students know what to expect and how to complete and turn in assignments.
  • Have a game day where the class meets online to interact with each other socially but also to review something they have learned in a game format.
  • Give kids time to chat with each other or have unstructured social time at the beginning and end of online class like they could do if they met in person. This gives them something to look forward to and provides a way to ease into the lesson and process what is going on around them.

Two Really Great Resources for Teachers

Here are two resources to help you continue your effort to become more proficient at using technology to teach students who may not be right in front of you:

Google For Educators-Teach from Anywhere

Many schools have adopted Google Suite for Education. This site shows educators how to use Google tools to teach from anywhere. This site contains very specific step-by-step tutorials on how to do things like:

  • Have a video call with your class
  • Record lessons for students to watch later
  • Livestream your video lessons for students with weaker internet connections
  • Create an assignment in Google Classroom
  • Use Google Slides
  • Collaborate with Google Docs
  • Use Google Sites to create a class website

The site also contains information on how to use Google tools to modify lessons and make them accessible as well as to keep students engaged. This includes information on how to:

  • Use a screen reader
  • Set up live captions for students who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • Use the accessibility features built into the G Suite and Chromebooks
  • Create a quiz using Google Forms
  • Ways to encourage student discussion
  • Provide feedback in Google Docs

Learning Keeps Going

ISTE and EdSurge have created a website to support educators who are transitioning to distance and online learning. This website contains free and low cost ($8) training for teachers on a variety of topics such as how to use Flip Grid, Zoom, Google Tools, Quizlet, Kahoot, and screencasting. It also contains a searchable database of multimedia classroom resources and professional development for K-12 educators in multiple subject areas. In addition, it serves as a hub of information from many other websites and sources with links to various organizations that provide educational technology resources, lesson plans, videos, apps, or curriculum that could help support educators in their endeavor to teach students from home. There is something here for every type of teacher, school counselors, social workers, special educators, and administrators at the school and district level.

We need to remember that although teachers did an amazing job of transferring learning online with no notice in March and April, that was more of an emergency response than the implementation of genuine distance learning. For this year, it is our job to figure out how to make online learning engaging, collaborative, and supportive for a wide variety of learners. It is a big task, but if anyone can do it, teachers can.


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Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Co-Owner and Director of Education

Proud mom of two adorable girls. Teacher who has developed an education business that started at a kitchen table and has grown into a thriving small business... Click here to Learn more about Nina.


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Ms Brown was wonderful with tutoring my child in Algebra ll.
Pam Cantrell Burton
Pam Cantrell Burton
Parrish Learning Zone helped my daughter with on-line SAT and college essay preparation. She not only scored in the top 90 percentile on the SAT after working with Lauren Cannavo, she especially benefited from the tutoring she received for her admission essays. My daughter was accepted at Notre Dame, UVA, William and Mary, and received scholarships to George Washington University and the University of Alabama. She was initially deferred at the University of Chicago and waitlisted at University of Michigan and Emory University. She eventually chose not to remain on the waitlists and committed to UVA.Lauren also advised our daughter regarding her submission of a 20 page essay on community service for DECA, a high school business club. Our daughter, along with her partner, won second place in her category at the DECA state competitions in 2019 and 2020, and received second place at the DECA international competition in 2019.Lauren was not only a top-notch professional, she really cared about our daughter and was so pleased about her accomplishments. We are so very grateful to her and Parrish Learning Zone.
Marijayne Kruus
Marijayne Kruus
My daughter has a math learning disability and hated math. We started working with Nina Parrish and stuck with it for several months. Her grades have improved, but more importantly, so has her self confidence. She now loves going to work on math and will even work on it at home by herself. We are grateful for Parrish Learning Zone!
Laura Ellis
Laura Ellis
Mr. Chaves is an extremely gifted chemistry teacher. It's such a difficult subject--my son was drowning by the time we found PLZ. This was truly a last ditch effort on our part. Mr. Chaves was able to turn that ship around after only 4 lessons and my son passed the SOL! He was able to distill difficult concepts in a way that made them comprehensible and he was patient and kind and gave my son the confidence to succeed. His actual eacher expressed surprise and made a point of telling him he didn't know how he did it but he was impressed. It takes a gifted teacher to get results like that.I only wish we'd found PLZ and Mr. Chaves in the beginning of the school year.
Wendy Zelazny
Wendy Zelazny
Highly Recommend
Anne Kater Reeves
Anne Kater Reeves
I highly recommend Parrish Learning Zone. My daughter was able to achieve the SAT score she was aiming for with the help of her Math (Mr. James Slane) and English (Mrs. Lauren Cannavo) tutors. Not only did they help her with practice tests but they also boosted her confidence in taking the SAT. The owners (Nina and Jay) were always prompt in answering my emails. They are very accommodating and worked around my daughter’s schedule (thank you Shiela for all your help in finding available dates for my daughter to meet with her tutors). Thank you Parrish Learning Zone for helping my daughter achieve her goal!
Beth Yankovich
Beth Yankovich
I can't say enough good things about Parrish Learning Zone. My son has historically suffered from low reading comprehension. I felt he needed a little extra help so I contacted Parrish Learning Zone. The owners at Parrish matched my son with the perfect tutor for him, they developed a rapport almost immediately. He is now in 8th grade and doing well in all his classes. My son is very active in school sports and the staff at Parrish are always very accommodating. They always reschedule with no problems. My son even likes to go early to chat with Sheila.
Beth Kent
Beth Kent
Awesome! Very structured and student focused - they identified the areas of weakness and turned those into areas of strength in a very short amount of time. I loved the communication from the tutor and the company. I received a specific report of my child's tutoring session including improvements and areas that needed continued work. I received reminders of upcoming tutor sessions - which I needed!! I felt the individual attention and service was worth every penny AND found the prices to be much more reasonable that other tutors in the area. I would HIGHLY recommend Parrish Learning Zone to any parent that needs to find highly competent tutoring help for their child. Parrish is simply the best!
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
An excellent place to take your kids for any tutoring needs! PLZ is a very personalized and hands on service! Both of my teenage boys have been through here for various reasons and I know we will continue to make use of them!
Tammy Elms Mosco
Tammy Elms Mosco
SAT Prep Course with Parish Learning is definitely a worthwhile invest !!...My son's scores improved over 200 plus points!!
Janice Boles
Janice Boles
I am extremely thankful to Parrish Learning Zone. I have a son that is a freshman in college majoring in mechanical engineering. I am so glad that we found out about the Parrish Learning Zone because they were very caring and really worked hard around my sons high school football schedule to ensure that he received all of the needed instruction in order to do well on the SAT testing. It was a great investment for his future. I believe this experience prepared my son for the transition to college life. He was able to attend a top engineering college and to play football there. My daughter is a senior in high school now and was admitted into two of the top ranked public schools in Virginia. She will be a freshman at one of these schools next year. She also was enrolled in the Parrish Learning Zone for preparation for the SAT. I am again thankful to the Parrish Learning Zone and feel that this was a great long term investment into their futures. I would strongly recommend the Parrish Learning Zone to anyone looking for an environment that offers a caring and knowledgeable approach to educating students. They are the best.
Angela Jackson
Angela Jackson
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