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Teacher Saves World E28: How Can We Engage Our Teens with More Distance Learning?

Teacher Saves World E28: How Can We Engage Our Teens with More Distance Learning?


Laurie & Matt tackle a topic most teachers, parents, AND teens were hoping they wouldn’t have to this fall. With COVID-19 cases still not under control in most parts of the United States, distance learning looks to be the method of schooling most likely to be implemented in school districts across the nation. So, “How Can We Engage Our Teens with More Distance Learning?” is this episode’s essential question.

Laurie & Matt come up with five ideas to hopefully engage students in their learning, despite many of the usual motivating factors like athletics, the arts, and social interaction being absent. Here’s what they came up with:

  1. Synchronous Learning. This will most likely be a site by site decision, but simulating the rhythm of the school day as much as possible, with scheduled attendance in Zoom (or other, similar platforms) classrooms is necessary to get our teens in motion. This will also be an assist to parents, and teens themselves, as a schedule with attendance obligates them to their school commitments.
  2. Build Community. Even though we won’t be together to play our silly games or physically connect, taking the time to have students interact and get to know each other cannot be skipped.
  3. Teacher-Student Connection. Teachers need to find ways to get to know their students personally, their interests, likes and dislikes, and their goals and dreams.
  4. Build Relevance. Leveraging the information learned about individual students allows teachers to more specifically tailor the relevance of curriculum to students’ lives. The more relevant the work is, the more motivated the student is.
  5. Make it Personal. The more that teachers can bring students into the work, allowing them to make choices or infuse their values and interests into the assignments, the more they light up. This won’t be possible for everything, but we should make an effort to do it more than we normally do.

In the opening, Matt mentions he’s discovered a new band that has him wanting to move to Dublin, Ireland. The band is Fontaines D.C., and you can check them out here:

Get your copy of Helping Teens Succeed in High School & Life at

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Show music provided by Brian Karmelich of

We started Teacher Saves World! to unite teachers and parents in saving the world, one teenager at a time. We're high school teachers and parents of two teens ourselves, so while we love the little ones, that turbulent time between childhood and adulthood is our wheelhouse. We also think high school is four of the most important years in a person's life, and each teen needs an army of caring adults that are dedicated to making sure they're ready to thrive in adulthood. We're taking an Avengers approach: We need everybody to pitch in! We're all superheroes when we care about helping teenagers grow up into confident and capable adults.


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