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  • Cathy Keller

Remote Learning Tip #2: A Workable Space

What is your routine?


Do you have a routine before you sit down to get to work? Grading essays is NOT my favorite part of teaching, so before I sit down to grade 90 of them, I need to bribe myself to get in the mood. I make a cup of tea (or iced coffee when it's hot), I get a little bowl of snacks (because otherwise I would eat ALL THE THINGS), and I get a really nice pen. THESE are my favorite because they have a small precise tip, they don't bleed, and they come in lots of bright pretty colors.


That pen makes such a difference.


A good pen gets me in the mindset to get work done, and the little happy that a nice color gives me is such a boost. (Green, purple and teal are my favorites. Pink is ok. Red is just MEAN, and blue and black blend in with student writing.) These are an acceptable replacement, FYI.


Once I have all of those things, I need a big open table to spread out (it has to be a clean space) and quiet. I can't have people interrupting me every 5 minutes or I lose my train of thought. I also need a big chunk of time so that I can get into a groove (this is why grading is really hard for me at school).


So think of what YOU need to be productive. I would be willing to bet you have a similar routine.


Now Translate that to a Remote Learning Space


Now think about what works for YOU (if you're a student) or your kids (if you're a parent) and how you can help create a good space for learning. That's what you need for a remote-learning space.


For us that meant cleaning ALL THE TOYS out of a room (ok 95% of them). That meant cleaning all of the junk out of their desk (there was SO MUCH JUNK), stocking it with organized supplies (something like THIS to hold supplies, or something cheaper from the dollar store, plus one of these to organize notebooks.) This was a big project and took a whole day with all 5 of us working, but it was well worth it.


We have one desktop computer for my twins to use for synchronous learning video calls. We have another laptop for another one of them to use on the main floor near where my husband will be working from home. Remember that headphones with microphones are necessary for this. A lot of kids have headphones for school, but they don't necessarily have microphones. There are "cool" fancy options like this, simpler ones like this, or smaller earbuds like this.


For work they'll do asynchronously (aka on their own), an Alexa is really helpful. They can take turns playing music they like while they work, and we can set reminders about video conference calls for synchronous learning times (keeping track of all those zoom calls is hard!) The old generation Alexas are very affordable and work great. I'll do a post at a later date about some of the fun educational features these have.


Younger kids will need a lot of support creating this space. Older kids might be more independent or already have a space created. Either way, ask them what would make the space more enjoyable for them. For my 9 year old twins it was decorating with some tschotskes.





For my 14 year old son, it was nice gaming headphones. Give them some agency with the space, and it will make them happier to be in it. This is good advice for a lot of school related topics, actually.





What does your home office space look like? What makes you happy to get started like nice pretty pens and a cup of tea do for me?


Stay tuned tomorrow for routine tips!


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