5 Essential Back-to-School Organization Tips: Balancing In-Person and Online Spaces
By: VHS Learning
As the back-to-school season approaches, educators face the modern challenge of organizing their classrooms to accommodate both in-person and online learning. Creating a functional and tech-friendly classroom requires careful planning to create a supportive and organized learning environment for students. Online and in-person learning have different space, time, and resource requirements, so proper organization is key to provide students with a balanced learning experience.
To help ensure an effective learning environment for both online and in-person learning, here are five essential back-to-school organization tips:
- Create a Functional Learning Space
Creating an organized and functional learning space is crucial for both in-person and online learners. It’s important to create a space where students have a clear line of sight and easy access to their teacher, whiteboards or projectors, and any instructional materials they’ll use throughout class. If students use personal devices in your class, a space where they can plug in, and charge devices is crucial to create a tech-friendly space and avoid any interruptions. If your class schedule is more flexible and student-led, consider creating a space with different designated learning zones, so students can move around to meet their learning needs.
- Organize Your Digital Hub
If your school uses a digital hub, it’s important to get it up-to-date first thing! A learning management system (LMS) will serve as a centralized location for students to access resources, assignments, and announcements. If you duplicate resources from last year, back-to-school is the ideal time to clear out old information and update and organize current information. Organize your digital hub with folders or modules that correspond to different subjects or lessons, making it easier for students to navigate and find the materials they need. To support students taking online courses through a different LMS, it can be helpful to add a link to that site from your students’ main LMS home page so they can easily access online learning.
- Pace Your Course
Consistency is key, especially for high school students who are changing between classrooms daily and might engage in both online and in-person learning throughout the week. Create an organized, itemized course calendar to give students, families, and any other important stakeholders at the start of the semester, so everyone is on the same page from day one. Establish a clear pace for in-person coursework, doing your best to ensure your course's schedule doesn’t directly conflict with students’ online courses. Be prepared to stay flexible as the semester goes on to support these students as they pursue online learning opportunities.
- Foster Communication
Effective communication is essential for both in-person and online learners. Encourage students to ask questions, seek clarification, and collaborate. Establish clear lines of communication, such as email, discussion boards, or a school communications platform, to facilitate student-teacher and student-student interactions. It’s also important for in-person teachers and your online learning coordinators that support students to have open channels of communication to provide holistic encouragement to students.
- Be Prepared to Adjust
Maintaining balance when students are enrolled in both in-person and online courses requires ongoing assessment and adjustment. Check the effectiveness of your teaching and communication strategies, gather feedback from students and parents, and make necessary modifications. Stay flexible and open to improvements as you navigate the challenges of diverse learning modes.