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10 Scorpion School Guidelines for Sage Ridge Teachers

  • Academics
  • Student Life
Tobin Bechtel

As teachers reflect on how to best design or redesign their units, lessons, or courses, we encourage you to consider the following questions: 

  • How can I leverage digital platforms to provide learning experiences rich in engagement, social interaction, and feedback? 
  • Which key understandings, skills, and dispositions planned for on campus classes are transferable to a distance experience? How can I help my students construct their own understandings? 
  • What are the authentic, age-appropriate learning opportunities that have resulted from this emergency or crisis? Where might my students’ curiosity and motivation open other new possibilities? 
  • How can I design personalized learning experiences that address the needs of different types of learners? 
  • How will I assess student learning in meaningful ways? 
  • How can I help my students manage the worry, fear, or isolation they may be experiencing as a result of this emergency or crisis?

The transition to distance learning will not be simple or easy. Teachers will need to think differently about how to communicate, give instruction, and provide feedback; how to design lessons and assignments that are authentic and meaningful; and how to ensure students continue to collaborate and communicate with others. The ten guidelines provided below are intended to help teachers across all divisions reflect on challenges they’ll confront in shifting to distance learning. 

1—Learn by Doing, Learn by Caring 

Sage Ridge is built upon our Pillars and this crisis may cause your student’s to be anxious or worried. Before diving into the curriculum, take the time to assess your students’ physical, social, and emotional well-being. How are they doing? How are their families? Regularly check in with your students and their parents. 

2—Evaluate your students’ conditions for distance learning 

While most students will have reliable online access at home and the necessary devices to shift to distance learning, others will not. Teachers should remember that each family’s circumstances will vary and they should avoid assumptions about limitations or restrictions students are facing. Ask your students and/or their parents to confirm their location; whether their online access is reliable; and what devices the student has at their disposal. Open a dialogue with families and avoid assumptions that all students’ circumstances are the same. 

3—Stick with the familiar 

Especially in the first weeks after moving to distance learning, teachers should continue using existing communication channels and systems. In other words, stick with what’s familiar to your students. Teachers should remember that while many students will thrive with distance learning, others will struggle. In the event that the school remains closed for a longer period of time, it may become necessary to explore new or different learning platforms that provide different experiences. In the beginning, stick with the familiar. 

4—Less is more 

One challenge confronting teachers will be how to best streamline content and elevate the most essential learning for students. In other words, teachers need to take a less-is-more perspective, including the pacing of lessons and assignments. It can also be hard to know exactly how long school closure might last, which makes longer-term planning difficult. In addition, most students will not be at their full learning capacity as they struggle to deal with this crisis situation.

5—Seize the moment; embrace new opportunities and possibilities for your students 

While distance learning should attempt to bring some normalcy and routine to students’ lives, teachers shouldn’t ignore the opportunities resulting from school closure either. We might encourage students to keep a daily journal or diary for the duration of the crisis. Personal journaling and/or other creative writing assignments can help students process their thoughts, worries, and emotions, particularly in times of crisis. Students might use other media as well, including video, drawing, painting, and music. Moreover, the crisis might also provide other real-life opportunities to study scientific phenomena associated with the crisis, how the media is reporting the incident, how governments are responding, and many other opportunities to seize the moment and design new learning transdisciplinary experiences for our students. 

6—Provide space for personalized learning 

Remote learning can provide opportunities for students to personalize what, how, and when they learn. Students can move more flexibly and freely through content when teachers create nonlinear curricula. Remote learning can also provide students with the opportunity to learn at different paces (e.g. Khan Academy). How might students be empowered to create their own learning pathways and experiences? 

7—Designers of experience; facilitators of learning 

In shifting to distance learning, it is especially important for teachers to think of themselves as designers of experiences and facilitators of learning. Distance learning places a premium on a teacher’s ability to think more deeply about how to introduce content, design experiences, and coach students with thoughtful, specific feedback. Teachers need to establish conditions where students have a clear sense of purpose, opportunities to express themselves, and experiences that allow them to work toward mastery. This will help students stay motivated and engaged in learning, even when they are not physically at school. 

8—Design asynchronous learning experiences 

When school is closed, teachers can still connect students asynchronously. For example, teachers can use familiar discussion forums or tools like Google Classroom to allow for student responses and dialogue during a set time period, knowing that students might not all be online at the same exact time. 

9—Design synchronous learning experiences 

When it comes to student engagement and learning, relationships matter as much online as they do in person. Collaboration remains important and there are many ways teachers can foster it through synchronous learning. Our main tool for synchronous experiences is ZOOM.

10—Think differently about assessment 

Assessment is one of the most challenging adjustments for teachers new to distance learning. Distance learning should be seen as an opportunity for students, individually or collaboratively, to complete writing assignments, design infographics, make video presentations, or complete oral assessments via video chat. Teachers are encouraged to think differently about the end goal to performance instead of forcing an assessment method that might not fit distance learning. Thinking differently about assessment will positively influence the experience for students, leverage the strengths of distance learning, and prevent frustration on the teacher’s part when other methods do not work.

  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Distance Learning
  • Scorpion School
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