Teacher Language to Support Distance Learning

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Communicating effectively with students can be a challenge for teachers, even in the best of times, and with current circumstances requiring many schools to teach remotely, it adds a new layer of complexity to this communication. But it can also provide a unique opportunity: Online teaching and learning parallels the first weeks of school, when teacher language plays a vital role in setting students up for success with positive routines and procedures.

Once expectations for distance learning protocols have been established, teachers can help students solidify new academic behaviors by naming their strengths and positive actions through reinforcing language. For example, a teacher might say, “I noticed that everyone joined this meeting prepared with a response to the prompt.” A teacher can also help the class recall expectations with reminding language: “Remind us of the steps of submitting work electronically.” If a student forgets newly agreed-on expectations, the teacher can directly and respectfully give clear instructions, or redirecting language, such as “Lindsey, use the ‘raise hand’ feature before speaking.”

Although teaching remotely presents unique challenges, it also provides opportunities for educators to be more intentional in their communication with students. Using sentence stems can guide teachers in their use of effective language and help them when preparing for online lessons, providing feedback via email or video conference, or creating video lessons.