As of now, public schools in Arkansas will continue distance learning until April 17. We decided to reach out to a veteran online educator, Jennifer Fenney of River Valley Virtual Academy for her tips and tricks. We hope they help parents, students and educators adjust to the new normal. We’ve got this! 

Five Questions with Little Rock Family: Distance Learning 

LRF: What’s your top tip to students who are transitioning from conventional classroom to distance learning?

JF: As students transition to distance learning, it is important to remember distance learners must actively engage in the content. For example, after you watch a video or read a chapter, be sure to take notes. Record the important vocabulary you come across when engaging in learning activities. 

LRF: What’s your favorite thing about distance learning?

JF: Distance learning provides the opportunity for families to develop flexible schedules. During the COVID-19 closures, families can arrange their schooling around their work and daily life. Flexibility is the key to a successful distance learning program!

LRF: How can parents support their students during this transition?

JF: Communication is essential for the success of students during the transition. Parents and teachers need to communicate frequently to ensure students are able to engage in the learning activities successfully. Communication in distance learning can be through email, text messages, Zoom meetings or phone calls. Engaging in a variety of communication strategies will provide parents and students with the confidence to actively engage in the learning activities. 

LRF: What’s the hardest thing about distance learning?

JF: Students participating in distance learning must be motivated to complete the lessons. Parents can support their students in this area by creating a space dedicated to school activities. In addition, parents can provide structure and support by following a daily schedule so students know what to expect each day.

LRF: What are your top tips for teachers who are trying distance learning for the first time?

JF: The most important thing to remember is to offer yourself grace during this transition. No one expects you to be perfect. During this time, remember students and parents need support and guidance. In distance learning, there is no such thing as too much communication. Be sure to communicate using a variety of methods such as text messages, email and social media. Teachers in middle school through high school need to include both parents and students in the communication. In addition, don’t rely only on live lessons/instruction. Not all students will be able to access the videos during specific times. Flexibility is the key to success when engaging in online learning activities. Flexibility is important to the students and families during this time.  

Jennifer Feeny has served as an educator in Arkansas for 17 years. She currently serves as the Coordinator of the River Valley Virtual Academy in Van Buren, Arkansas.