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6 Challenges of Remote Teaching & What Teachers Can Do About It

by Jennifer Rees

You can also read this article in German, Spanish, French, Indonesian, Italian and Portuguese.

Learn about some of the unique challenges of remote teaching and what teachers can do about it.

Even though teachers faced numerous challenges in the traditional classroom setting, remote learning has offered many more. Here are some of the unique challenges of remote teaching and what teachers can do about it.

Restricted Human Connectivity


For centuries, the classroom has been a place of deep human connection between teacher and students. There are many different opportunities for spontaneous interaction, interactive learning, and personal exchanges about home and family life. The remote classroom severely limits these micro-interactions due to its unique structure. Students and teachers find it much more difficult to foster deeper connections with each other. This has an effect not only on the quality of learning, but also the overall school experience and, in some cases, the health of the students.

What teachers can do about it: Even though it requires more time and emotional energy, teachers looking to nurture their connections with their students can be attentive and receptive to their students’ body language and cues during online classes. They can also schedule one-on-one time with each student throughout the month to connect with them directly. In hybrid settings, these 1:1 meetings should take place during physical attendance to ensure the most effective interaction.

Body Language Is Muted


Even though remote learning environments can be hugely successful, more subtle cues of communication, like facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice, can be lost in online education.

What teachers can do about it: Without compromising on their identity or teaching style, teachers can stand to dial up on their communication cues for emphasis and, if necessary, could even circle back on a specific topic to highlight why it's important. Over-communication is essential for all remote relationships, but for teachers, it's key to strike the right balance so that they don’t become too repetitive or bore their students.

Authority That Comes With Presence


The structure of the remote classroom can be a significant equalizer in many ways. Even so, it's possible for the teacher to feel like they have less authority and like they have lost control of their own class because physical presence and proximity are lacking.

What teachers can do about it: Teachers can set clear rules, expectations, and boundaries for the online classroom and communicate these to the students, not just once but on an ongoing basis. Keeping students’ focus and attention is also key.

Dealing With Remote Classroom Software


While digital tools and software were already becoming increasingly popular in traditional classrooms, the rapid shift to remote learning has required teachers and students to adopt new digital technologies sooner than they might have planned. Teachers have the added responsibility to ensure not only that they themselves have a grip on any new software but that their students do, too.

What teachers can do about it: Ask for help and offer help. When implementing new software for remote learning, teachers can and should request help from the school's admin or IT department to ensure smooth installation and onboarding for both teachers and students. That also includes training and being updated with news on known issues or software updates that may affect them. It's also important that teachers check in with students from time to time to ensure that they have all they need to work with any new tools.

Less Contact With Colleagues


Remote teaching can lead to teachers feeling isolated and disconnected. The teachers’ lounge is so much more than a break room, it’s a meeting place where teachers can exchange ideas, give feedback, or just do some necessary venting.

What teachers can do about it: While in-person interaction is irreplaceable, video and conferencing calls can create a place to exchange information and get support. This ensures that if help is needed, it just takes the click of a button.

Students Being Left Behind


An emotionally challenging aspect of being a teacher is having students who may be struggling in class or have little to no access to basic resources or support at home. The remote classroom has made this even more difficult because it eliminates a lot of the spontaneous connection that could help teachers support their students when they need it. What teachers can do about it: Keep a close eye on students for any signs that may indicate they are struggling in class or at home. Maintain regular one-on-one contact with them and create a safe space for them to express themselves, share their feelings, or ask for help.

While remote learning is unlikely to be the number one learning method of the future, parts of it are very likely to stay around. After all, hybrid models and the general option to do remote teaching and learning have made education more accessible. Teachers who find themselves in a position where they need to teach remotely should be aware of the pitfalls. It's important for students and teachers to stay connected, not just for the sake of keeping up with education but for the sake of preserving and nurturing their mental health during difficult times. Even though spontaneous interactions are limited, with some thought, planning, and awareness, teachers still have the power to help one another, and their students feel seen, heard, and taken care of.

Jennifer Rees
Jennifer Rees
UX Writer