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Distance Learning During School Closures

If you find yourself having to make a quick shift towards distance learning or virtual learning due to school closings or local quarantines, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. BetterLesson coaches have gathered tips and resources in response to eight questions important to consider when planning for a successful launch of virtual learning. We hope the recommendations we've compiled will help you create an engaging and impactful distance learning experience for your students during this challenging time.

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Before diving into any model of distance learning, it is important to consider whether your plan is equitable for all of your students. Do all of your students have the resources they need to engage with virtual learning (hardware, internet, etc.)? If not, consider what supports you can put in place to ensure all students can engage in the learning. Prior to school closings, schools may want to establish systems for students to check out devices for the length of time that schools will be closed. If necessary, teachers may also want to consider what resources can be shared via alternative means, such as sending hard copies of course materials in the mail to students with limited internet access.

Eight Questions to Guide Your Work

In order to plan for a successful launch of virtual learning, we recommend thinking through the following eight questions. Our guide provides tips, resources, and recommendations to support you in responding to each one.

  1. What systems and supports do you need to provide to ensure all students have equitable access to learning?
  2. How will you organize your materials?
  3. How will you build and uphold a productive culture for online learning?
  4. How will you communicate with students?
  5. How will you introduce new content to students?
  6. How will your students engage in the learning activities?
  7. How can you check that students are actually learning?
  8. What can you do if some of your students are struggling with this form of learning?

For a collection of tips, resources, and recommendations from our instructional coaches for facilitating effective virtual learning, download our free guide to getting started with distance learning. 

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Featured Resources

Below, we've highlighted a few of the resources we recommend. For more suggestions, download the guide via the link above.

  • Consider how you will communicate and uphold norms and expectations in a virtual learning space. Romain Bertrand, BetterLesson's Senior Manager of Innovative Learning Experiences, wrote a helpful blog: Eight Ways To Build Blended Learning Class Culture.

  • If you're using video to introduce content to students, check out the Using Video for Flipped Learning Environments strategy in the BetterLesson lab. It's filled with great tips for ensuring that instructional videos are engaging and impactful.

    virtual learning


  • In the virtual space, build in time to "greet" students before getting started. Consider using an ice breaker to get students talking and sharing right away. How about spinning this wheel of emojis? For more ideas, check out the Thresholding to Greet Students at the Door strategy in the BetterLesson lab.

  • When students are at home, parents and caregivers are often particularly eager for updates on their students' learning. They are also key partners in helping students navigate the new approach to learning! Check out the Creating and Implementing a Family Partnership Plan in the BetterLesson lab for tips about how to partner with parents when engaging in distance learning.

    family partnership


  • Create opportunities for students to set goals prior to starting an online task and to reflect after having completed the task. Check out the Goal Setting and Reflection strategy in the BetterLesson lab for a collection of goal-setting protocols.

  • With students working remotely, take advantage of the opportunity to assess their learning in a more hands-on way by creating an actual product. For example, give students the opportunity to teach what they've learned to a peer via video using the Students Become Teachers to Demonstrate Mastery strategy in the BetterLesson lab.

    project-based learning


Interested in Additional Support?

We hope this guide has provided you with resources and tips that will help smooth your school's transition to distance learning. If you'd like to inquire about additional support, please reach out or visit our website at