5 Elements We Learned & We Can Not Forget: Remote & Physical Classrooms

Rae HughartBlog, Differentiate Better, Engage Better, Innovate Better, Lesson Plan Better, Manage Better, Personalize Student Learning Better, Tech Better


  • The five elements to take away from the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Ways to come back stronger when we return to our physical classrooms.

Let’s clear the air early on – there are WAY more than just 5 things I hope educators have learned during this since the transition from physical classrooms to remote learning. And if you really thought there were only 5 elements you’ve learned, please stop reading this blog and give me a call (we’ve got to talk!)

However, if you want to know the 5 elements I think are most important for teachers to remember as they begin considering a transition from a remote learning environment to a physical classroom learning space, let’s dive into these 5 pieces!

Progressive management resources work beyond remote learning classrooms.

No one said managing students was easy. So, when we threw physical distancing into the mix, it got even more challenging! While many classrooms early on were not required by their district or state to “force” students to participate in learning, most teachers still felt the need to track student interactions.

Why? Because we care about our kids! Even if they were choosing to not do assigned learning opportunities, we still wanted contact with them. We wanted them to know we cared.

As weeks passed and remote learning became our reality, educators around the world continued to track students’ progress differently. Systems like the triage system – often used in classrooms using The Grid Method – continued to support teachers. It not only helped track student learning, but also provided an outlet for students to advocate for their needs.

Do not let this management strategy fall to the wayside as we enter back into our physical classrooms. There are positive elements that emerge when we give ownership back to our students. We must continue as educators to focus on interactions with students being driven by our care for them. This should be prioritized over task completion, and can become a part of our classroom management in any space.

Resources are abundant, & not just for remote classrooms.

When COVID-19 hit our country hard, we witnessed schools closed and more people asking questions rather than answering them. We were left wondering what would come as information changed hour by hour. And, how did the world of education respond? We rallied.

Technology companies and educational support teams began to provide any support necessary to support an educator eager to learn. Free trials were awarded. Tree downloads were made available. Webinars filled newsfeeds for educators to learn and reach their learners more deeply.

But it’s important we remember, these resources do not go away simply because we are headed back to our old normal. These resources still exist and our drive to find the best tools for our students should still exist, too.

I say this with the understanding that some of the free trials we once loved have expired. Yes – bummer! However, not all of these tools will go back to their original state, just as our classroom will never return to its old state. We will all come out of this stronger. So, lets mourn the tools we no longer have access to and celebrate the resources we still have to make our classrooms better than ever.

Plus, there are still so many resources out there! Continue exploring even while we transition away from remote learning.

Keep your virtual brainstorming team.

Just like the Daily Drop In with the Teach Better Team, educators around the world shared resources and opened themselves up to help others. There were Q&A sessions and brainstorm buddies everywhere.

Do not allow your virtual support system fade simply because you now have access to your physical brainstorming team. You can benefit from both!

Continue growing your professional learning network. We can all benefit from having more people in our corner cheering us on and sharing their insight.

Students are human beings.

Equity. It was main focus of the distance learning conversation early on, and it continued consistently throughout the time of its implementation.

Educators and community members quickly began to discuss the equity gap for students. And while chromebooks were handed out to those in need and Wifi was provided to many – this gap was not ever going to be closed in a matter of months with a few tools. It’s going to take much more.

Students took on parental roles and teachers considered students’ home lives in their daily instruction. We must absolutely use this same lens when we transition away from remote learning as well. Yes – our schools do a wonderful job hiding the equity gap that exists between our students, but we cannot be fooled into believing it has been eradicated.

Our students are human beings. We must strive to learn about their lives and always take them into consideration. Not only while we plan lessons, but in how we treat them each day. We work with tiny humans. They have emotions. Responsibilities. Trauma. Continue to take the whole child into account.

We work with tiny humans. They have emotions. Responsibilities. Trauma. Continue to take the whole child into account. Click To Tweet

Learning must be purposeful, in physical AND remote classrooms.

Busy work had to go out the window as educators found out they were limited in the time they had with students in a distance learning environment. Some educators early on hoped they could simply “recreate the day” in a remote setting. But we all learned quickly that our lessons needed to be engaging, targeted, and personalized to win the attention of our students.

We can not allow this to end now.

Say goodbye to busy work and hello to purposeful learning! Challenge yourself to make classroom learning opportunities just as purposeful. Consider what learning opportunities your students actually need to fully master the material. Think of the time it may take a student to complete a task. And answer the question of “why” before you assign a task. This will allow your students to understand the purpose of the learning before taking on the challenge of learning it.

Learning must be purposeful.

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Its time for a Conclusion Challenge!

Which lesson did we leave out of this post? Create your own #6 and share it out on social media with your “Why” for its importance. Use the #TeachBetter and include a link to this post so we can continue to support other educators in being their best selves for their students!

About Rae Hughart

Rae Hughart is a Middle-Level Math and Writing Educator in Illinois, the Director of Training and Development for the Teach Better Team, and co-author of the Teach Better book. In 2017, Rae was honored with the Illinois State University Outstanding Young Alumni Award – inducting her into the University Hall of Fame. Then in 2018, Rae was honored again by the Henry Ford Innovator Award for her work within educators communities to build unity between local businesses and schools. Rae is also a member of the Teach Better Speakers Network.