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Your School is About to Go Virtual — What Now?


This rollercoaster school year means preparing for in-person, at-home, and hybrid teaching all at once — and adjusting without much warning.

If you’re not sure what you can do now to prepare for a potential shift to virtual learning, or if your transition to the digital classroom is imminent, here are top recommendations from teachers in our community who have already made the switch:

Pack your (Ziploc) bags

Basic supplies become even more essential when you aren’t standing next to your classroom cupboards full of backups.

“I would tell teachers who might be teaching either in-person or virtually at school to have an "emergency" teach-at-home bag at home in case they have to stay at home. A DonorsChoose project for school supplies that you can divide between home and school would be super helpful.” –Susan Stuart Davis-Foxworth, Kindergarten, Virginia

Consider building an at-home stockpile of these everyday items:

  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Copy paper
  • Ziploc bags
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Printer ink
  • Crayons
  • Dry erase markers

Need to stock up on the essentials? Check out project requests for distance learning classroom basics.

Get charged up

The right tech can make all the difference for a smooth transition.

“We've been 100% remote since August 11th. This sounds silly but run all the updates on your teacher computer. They really are necessary for it to function properly.” – Katie Fields, 6th Grade, California

Tech To-Do List:

  • Make sure you know your usernames and passwords
  • Test your at-home wifi 
  • Set up a second monitor so your students can still see you while you share your screen, documents, or e-books
  • Take stock of any additional tech items (a ring light, headphones, microphone, etc.) that you might need to bring virtual learning to life. 

Is it time to build an at-home classroom? Check out project requests for instructional technology for distance learning.

Phone a friend

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from fellow teachers! Teachers across the country have been experimenting with distance learning for months and they’re eager to share their resources and successes. For example, after basic supplies, Teachers Pay Teachers gift cards are the resource that teachers who have gone virtual most recommend. You can create a DonorsChoose project for TPT gift cards and use it to compile a library of digital materials for whenever your classroom goes online.

“[Request] money to purchase Teachers Pay Teachers items that are ready to go. Creating them myself is arduous and time consuming.” - Karla Johnson, California

Looking for more teacher-to-teacher distance learning real talk? Connect with the 20,000+ teachers in our DonorsChoose community on Facebook.

Send a smile

The first days of distance learning are key. Get ready to help your students settle in by prepping a postcard, stickers, treats, small trinkets, journals, or other little surprise to drop in the mail as soon as it’s time to go virtual.

“I just had [journal sets] funded to send to each of my students. One journal is for drawing, the other is for writing. That way they can put all of their thoughts and feelings down over the next couple of months. I’m hoping this helps with all of the feelings that will come with the holidays and life looking so different this year.” –Kelly Lynne Kilgore, 4th Grade, Virginia

“We've been remote this entire semester. I have bought tons of blank cards and fun water bottle stickers. I try to pick 3-4 students to send a positive note and sticker home to each day. It's been one small way to connect with my students.” - Sherri Palmer McPherson, 9th-12th Grades, Kentucky

Inspired? Don’t forget cards and envelopes! Check out project requests for snail mail supplies.

Do what you do best.

When nothing at all goes according to plan (again), know that you’re already prepared with the most universal necessities for any classroom, anywhere.

"Give your students choices as much as possible. Give them opportunities to prove what they know in multiple ways. And remember to give grace to others, even if you don’t get it back." - Tammy Fields, Grades 3-5, West Virginia

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