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Tips for teachers shifting to online teaching and learning 

We know that many of you are well prepared for online teaching and learning and will be working with your colleagues and community to put in place approaches that suit you, your students, parents and whānau. For some of you this will be very new, so here are some helpful tips to get you going.

The most important thing to remember: you have got this!

  • Keep in mind: you are working under emergency circumstances – things don’t have to be perfect from the get go.
  • This is not normal; children are likely to be experiencing stress and anxiety, and their parents may be under pressure, so be forgiving of them – and of yourself.
  • You know the children and young people you teach and something about what’s likely to be happening for them. Use your knowledge to identify what will probably work best for them.
  • Parents and whānau will want to support their children’s learning but they are not teachers. Remember that not all parents will be in a position to help. Lots of parents will have more than one child at home, some may be working. Be careful about the expectations you may be setting.
  • If you are an early learning teacher you are likely be connecting directly with children’s parents and whānau. Think about how you can make your advice practical and appropriate to their circumstances.
  • This is not the time to try out all the latest technology tools – keep it simple, and stick to what you (and your families, whānau and students) already know, at least to start with. It is easy to be swayed by the vast number of online platforms and apps out there but take it slowly. Work well with fewer tools rather than crowding your online space with lots of bells and whistles.
  • You may not be aware of Subject Associations who can provide assistance and guidance for subjects you are teaching. Download the list to find a Subject Association who can provide assistance.

Subject Associations website list

The websites of subject associations grouped by learning areas

On your marks

Some key things to keep in mind and discuss with your colleagues:

  • Prioritise time for relationships. You will need some different strategies to nurture and build on the relationships you have developed so far.
  • Work out a schedule that will work for you around communicating with your children, parents and whānau, and when they can get in contact with you, with questions, or simply for reassurance.
  • Communications will need to be very clear and how this looks will depend on the age of your students. Parents and whānau and your learners need to know what’s expected of them and by when and what they can expect from you. Have a look at the examples on Teachers' checklist for planning for ideas about how to structure a day. For children in early learning the desired learning will be more open-ended and reflect holistic learning. Older students may benefit from a learning guide that outlines the topic(s) being covered and any resources they will need.

Get set

  • Take into account the different opportunities distance provides when you do your planning. Younger children are unlikely to be able to do all of their learning online. For older students be clear about the most important things you’d like them to do and then provide a range of options for them to choose from. Include activities across the breadth of the curriculum—dance, drama, music, art, and physical education lend themselves to kids being engaged and having fun with their learning.
  • Use technology that you and your children, parents, whānau and students are comfortable with to record what learners have been doing. Doing activities off line and taking a photo to share works surprisingly well!
  • Don’t forget that everyday activities at home are important learning experiences. You may want to include these in your plan. Ask parents and whānau to share these with you as you talk with them about learning from home.


When you are online, it’s a good idea to look as you usually do – you don’t have to dress formally, but not pyjamas either. This will reassure kids that you are still their teacher, that you are on to it and are prepared and pleased to see them.

If you are using a video link, establish protocols: mute when not wanting to be heard, video off when leaving a session, consider privacy issues and the sharing of information and permissions.

Keep thinking about how to motivate children and keep them engaged as they play and work from a distance. Simple things like providing a variety of activities so they are not always doing the same things and recognising in each child and student what they have done well.

Some activities in your first few days

These could include:

  • Talking about your situation and invite the children and students to talk about their situation: who is in your bubble? Who is doing what?
  • Finding out what access to technology each child, student or family and whānau has. Many will share a device and expectations for using a device need to take this into account.
  • Sharing an image or piece of music that represents you/how you feel about . . .
  • Sharing an example from your everyday life/practice explaining why this concept is relevant.
  • Sharing one thing you’ve learned that has had either had the biggest impact, or has surprised you most.
  • Making up a scavenger hunt
  • Suggesting activities that use everyday things as pots and pans for babies and young children with
    • Quizzes
    • Wikis
    • Blogs/journals

Copyright advice for schools and teachers

Digital classrooms have a different set of copyright issues than physical classrooms, because doing things digitally almost always involves copying something. Following these guidelines is important. They will keep you and your school safe.


Copyright law protects books, music, films, software, and artwork from unauthorised copying or performances. In New Zealand, copyright applies to these works from the time they are created until 50 years after their creator or author dies. A copyright license is a permission to copy or perform a work.

Not all works are protected by copyright law. These things are usually not covered or are shared under a free license:

  • Most official New Zealand and US government documents, photographs, and maps. Note that artistic and creative work funded by governments is protected by copyright. Be sure to check the copyright statement on the document.
  • Anything released under a Creative Commons license. The authors of these works have shared them for free, though you should always attribute their creator.
  • Older works. Copyright doesn't last forever and many works have aged out and are now free to use.

In the Digital Classroom

Here is what you need to remember when sharing copyright works with your students:

  • You can always share a link from the internet. Linking isn't copying. You can also use your school’s online learning platform to share PDFs and other files that have been legally shared online or that you create yourself. This includes the use of images in slide presentations.
  • If you want to scan a work and share it with students, the law limits you to 3% or three pages, but never more than 50% of the work. So, if you want to share a poem and it’s three pages long--you can only share half. And you can share three pages of a hundred page book.
  • You may read copyright works to students over Zoom, GoogleHangouts, or through another technology platform so long as the reading is not recorded. If you wish to record a reading of a copyright work, teachers and school librarian’s should follow the guidelines published by The Coalition for Books.
  • You can’t show a movie or play music for your students online unless it is in the public domain or shared under a Creative Commons license.
  • These rules do not apply in the context of an examination. You may share or perform material for the purpose of an examination.

Student work

Students own the copyright to their own work. If you want to share their work with others, you should ask permission first. Students are also bound by the Copyright Act and you should help them to follow the rules around copying, performing, and sharing. If they want to, students can choose to share their work under a Creative Commons license.

Above all, remember

Be kind, stay connected, we’re all in this together, learning happens everywhere, find your routine and we will be OK.