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The challenges of online math instruction

A kindergarten teacher recounts her journey in online math instruction to inspire confidence and collaboration in her students under extraordinary circumstances

On March 30, 2020, I entered a whole new world of teaching my kindergarten class. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, educators across the world have had to completely change the way we work. It took a week of training, webinars, and numerous Zoom meetings with my teaching peers to learn the technology platforms I needed to deliver instruction. The next step was designing curriculum and instruction using the new format. Lastly, we created a weekly schedule with both live sessions on Zoom to introduce new concepts and links to recorded lessons for online math instruction, as well as online instruction in English/language arts and writing.

The biggest obstacle to online math instruction is checking in on the students’ thinking. I made the mistake the first week of allowing all the students to unmute during the instruction and guided practice. It was a disaster. I could hear toddlers crying, relatives speaking, and even had a child telling me all about his new dress-up costume (a warrior). I needed to rethink my delivery method and how I asked students to respond.

Related content: Building and sustaining a strong math culture

One advantage of teaching such young children is that they tend not to have the same kind of math anxiety that so many older students experience. Helping all my students maintain that healthy confidence during online math instruction, in an environment that’s new for all of us, has been a bit of a balancing act. Here’s what I’ve done so far.

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