Crisis Teaching and Distance Learning

What does really effective distance learning look like?

The COVID-19 pandemic teaching of 2020 wasn’t really ‘homeschooling’ but real crisis teaching and many schools just weren’t prepared. In Ofsted’s latest report of their COVID-19 series they found  in some schools remote learning was ‘not aligned’ to curriculum. Some schools were at sixes and sevens, many were firefighting and a few were on top of their game.

The COVID-19 virus has exposed lots of gaps in school provision but more so in teacher training. Most teachers won’t have ever been taught how to teach online or to facilitate a hybrid class model. Remember what Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman said back in the first lockdown,

We know home and online learning are very imperfect substitutes for the school experience.

But not everyone agrees. Some say the location doesn’t matter.


Some argue that we don’t have to be caught out again but we can be prepared with purpose and intent. One book makes this claim and uses “what works best to accelerate students’ learning all the while maintaining an indelible focus on equity.”

The Distance Learning Playbook, Grades K-12: Teaching for Engagement and Impact in Any Setting by Douglas Fisher – San Diego State University, USA, Nancy Frey – San Diego State University, USA and John Hattie – The University of Melbourne, Australia.

Harnessing the insights and experience of renowned educators Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie, The Distance Learning Playbook applies the wisdom and evidence of VISIBLE LEARNING® research to understand what works best with distance learning. Spanning topics from teacher-student relationships, teacher credibility and clarity, instructional design, assessments, and grading, this comprehensive playbook details the research- and evidence-based strategies teachers can mobilize to deliver high- impact learning in an online, virtual, and distributed environment.

This powerful guide includes:

  • Learning Intentions and Success Criteria for each module to track your own learning and model evidence-based teacher practices for meaningful learning
  • A diversity of instructional approaches, including direct instruction, peer learning, and independent work that foster student self-regulation and move learning to deep and transfer levels
  • Discussion of equity challenges associated with distance learning, along with examples of how teachers can work to ensure that equity gains that have been realized are not lost.
  • Special guidance for teachers of young children who are learning from a distance
  • Videos of the authors and teachers discussing a wide variety of distance learning topics
  • Space to write and reflect on current practices and plan future instruction

As John Hattie notes,

We have a chance to truly make a difference to the quality, the teaching, the learning, the outcomes of schooling by using this unexpected ‘experiment’ to bring a ‘new normal’ of teaching and learning.

The Distance Learning Playbook is the essential hands-on guide to preparing and delivering distance learning experiences that are truly effective and impactful.

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