20 Hacks That Every Remote Teacher Needs to Know


We’re several weeks into a new way of teaching – remotely from our homes. Some teachers are settling into a groove, but many of us are still overwhelmed. We’re trying to tackle technology, finding a work/home balance and connecting with our students all at once. Fortunately, there are some simple hacks that make remote teaching a little easier. 

TECH TIPS

1. Use your iPhone or iPad to scan documents. 

Open notes, then create a new note. Tap the camera button at the bottom of the screen and choose “scan document.” You can then upload or email the scanned document. 

2. Memorize some keyboard hacks. 

Some simple keyboard strokes accomplish tasks in seconds. 

  • CTRL + C copies highlighted text 
  • CTRL + X to cut (delete) highlighted text and copy it to your clipboard
  • CTRL + V to paste
  • CTRL + Z to undo the last action
  • CTRL + Y to redo an action that was just undone 
  • CTRL + S to save your document
  • CTRL + P to print 
  • CTRL + F to find a word or phrase in your document 
  • CTRL + A to select all text in your document 
  • CTRL + T to open a new browser tab
  • COMMAND + SHIFT + 5 starts recording your screen 

3. Keep your computer healthy. 

A slow computer makes teaching remotely an even bigger challenge. Doing a little maintenance might speed it up. Check for updates and then let them actually run instead of clicking “ask me later” for the 100th time. Make sure your virus protection software is running properly and authorize it to fix any issues it finds. Delete any unnecessary programs or files.

4. Use bookmarks. 

Bookmark websites to help you stay organize and navigate around the web quickly. You can set up categories for bookmarks for even more organization. Bookmarks can also be shared with your class.

5. Type with your voice. 

Use Google Docs to create lessons and notes using your microphone and the voice typing feature. This lets you work while going for a walk or stretching.

ZOOM TRICKS:

6. Start a Zoom background challenge. 

This is something fun and creative. It also builds a sense of community. Most of all, it provides a layer of privacy and protection for students who may be embarrassed for others to see their home situation. You can also suggest the challenge for staff meetings for the same reasons. 

7. Teach your students to raise their hands on Zoom. 

Students raise their hands in your brick-and-mortar classroom to help maintain order. You can do the same in your virtual classroom. Instead of everyone typing in the comments or trying to get your attention at once, they can press ALT/OPTION + Y. (PC users will use ALT.)

8. Mute the whole class on Zoom. 

Quickly make it so your voice is the only one students can hear during a zoom session by pressing ALT/COMMAND + CONTROL + M. 

9. Save time with Zoom shortcuts. 

  • ALT/COMMAND + U shows the participants list. Hitting the same keys removes the box. 
  • ALT/COMMAND + I brings up the invite box. 
  • SHIFT + COMMAND/ALT + S both starts and stops screen sharing sessions.
  • ALT/COMMAND + SHIFT + V stops and starts videoing. 
  • If you have yourself on mute to reduce background noise while your students are working, holding the spacebar temporarily unmutes you. 
  • ALT/COMMAND + SHIFT + R starts recording your meeting. 
  • ALT/COMMAND + SHIFT + C starts a Cloud recording. 

SIMPLE WAYS TO CONNECT WITH STUDENTS

10. Have a question of the day. 

Ask a question each day. This helps your class get to know one another better and help everyone feel connected. Pinterest has lots of prompt ideas. 

11. Use comics to create a virtual class photo. 

Pixton EDU allows teachers and students to create Bitmoji-style versions of themselves. They can be used in comics, virtual class photos and more. 

12. Respond to assignments with videos. 

Make quick videos for each student once a week going over their progress and offering feedback on assignments. Many students will find this more meaningful than a one-on-one phone call because they can rewatch it when they miss you.

13. Share tidbits of your life. 

Start a weekly blog, newsletter or vlog giving students a glimpse into your life in quarantine. Show them your work station, what you’re eating, hobbies you’re pursuing, etc. Encourage them to do the same. 

TIPS FOR FINDING A WORK/HOME BALANCE

14. Reframe distractions as rewards. 

Working online opens you up to the whole Internet brimming with distractions. Tell yourself, “If I grade assignments for one hour without looking at Facebook, I can take a ten-minute guilt-free social media break.” 

15. Stick to one window at a time. 

Having multiple windows open at once actually makes many people less productive by causing more pressure and overwhelm. Focus on one task at a time.

16. Minimize your work environment. 

Find a space you can clear of clutter. Work in an area where you limit how much you can see of the rest of the house if possible. Having a designated work area makes it easier to focus on work without your mind wandering to laundry piles. Noise-canceling headphones will also help you concentrate on work.

17. Lighting matters. 

Natural light is great for being on video. It is also good for enhancing mood and energy levels. Set up your workspace near a window if possible. 

18. Shorten your to-do list. 

Having 30 items on a to-do list sets you up for failure. Reduce it to five. Prioritize your list with urgent items at the top. You can always make another list if you knock those out quicker than expected. 

19. Have a designated stop time each day. 

Set an alarm on your phone and when it goes off, your day is done. Shut the laptop, stop checking emails and walk away for the day. You can also set a thirty-minute warning alarm if that makes it easier for you to transition out of work-mode. 

We’re all doing our best. Even the smallest hack can be helpful if it eases stress and gives us a little time. This way of working is temporary. Hang in there! 

Also Check Out:

20 Hacks That Every Remote Teacher Needs to Know


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Rachael Moshman
Rachael Moshman, M.Ed. is a mom, educator, writer, and advocate for self-confidence. She’s been a teacher in classrooms of infants through adult college students. She loves pizza, Netflix and yoga.
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