Tips to Teaching Successfully in 2020

Here’s how some educators are adapting to the new teaching schedule in school, and from home.


Although there are a variety of programs for in-class and online learning it’s Brightspace and Google Classroom that are widely board-approved. They both allow educators to communicate with the class, organize lessons, grade work and use live learning (note: Google Classroom’s real-time interaction is via Google Chat).

While Google Classroom allows access to Google Docs and Slides, Brightspace offers pre-populated curricula that teachers can use to organize their syllabus for the year, or quadmester.


Mike Krsul, an elementary teacher at Bristol Road Middle School in Peel, is a fan of Microsoft Teams (a board-approved video option) and FlipGrid, which allows kids to create their own video and submit to class where their peers can like or comment. The key, says Krsul, is to keep it simple.

“Too many options could be a nightmare. Returning kids are already familiar with Brightspace and Google Classroom so you don’t want to teach them something totally brand new in addition to their learning.”


For Krsul it starts with determining where kids are coming from — are their parents at home, are they sharing a computer, are they able to get in their 300 minutes a day?

“I need to know their online learning capabilities so I can adapt my teaching.” For example, all assignments may need to be electronic if they don’t have access to a printer. “You’re always trying to build up a learner profile, but when it’s only virtual it requires a deeper dive and more connecting with the kids,” says Krsul.


Mohina Lal, a high school teacher at Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute in Toronto, now must compress a semesters worth of curriculum into half the amount of time. With a two-semester system converted into a quadmester (four semesters with less subjects in a day for more hours) students will be learning two subjects in one quarter of the year.

Lal and her fellow teachers want a structure and strategy that can sustain students and move between the two systems — in-class and online. “Having kids alternate between working for 20 minutes, listening for 20 minutes, then working in small groups, then alternating again — will help break down the content into small, digestible chunks, and hopefully keep them engaged,” she says. And, in case of an outbreak, this way of teaching is easy to pivot to fully online learning.


Without every day in-person face time, communication between teachers, students and classmates is more important than ever. In some school districts, secondary school learning is in-person teaching for 3.5 hours, and then teachers have a one hour check in with the online class that they didn’t see that day. Within the Google platform there is a jamboard where kids can contribute to the space (in Brightspace it’s called a discussion board). “For kids that are away for the day, or if it’s their day to learn online, this is a way for them to connect back into the moment,” says Lal. “These types of discussions are similar to notes — what students would write on the chalkboard, so it helps keep everyone connected.”

For elementary students, Krsul plans to structure his online teaching similar to what they’d experience in-person — to keep it consistent. “I’ll take attendance, teach a lesson, provide an assignment and time to work on it virtually,” he says. “While they’re doing their work, they can still reach out — I’ll be sitting there live and able to answer any questions that come up.”

By Staples Canada

September 28, 2020

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