4.4 Common Learning Environments – Demo


Common Learning Environments

This is an especially challenging time to be a student, parent/guardian, and teacher. Beyond pedagogy, there will be many logistical challenges with teaching and learning through a pandemic, so remember to balance empathy and accountability for students, families, and yourself. Because you may be substitute teaching in a socially distant in-person model, a hybrid model, or an at-home/remote model, it’s important to consider the opportunities and best practices associated with each kind of learning environment. You may be given explicit instructions about the model and tools the teacher uses, in which case you should focus on managing the model, tools, and student motivation. Or, you may need to select and utilize structures and tools on your own to support students. In this lesson, you will gain a basic understanding of the common learning environments/reopening scenarios for schools (full in-person, distance learning, hybrid, etc.).


In-person or face-to-face learning comprises face-to-face experiences between students and educators in the same location while following social distancing and sanitization guidelines, with the goal of minimizing the spread of disease while reopening the physical school environment for as many people as possible. Face to face instruction creates more opportunities for social learning and human interaction for in-class students as these students have easy access to the teacher and each other. 


At-home, distance, or remote learning are all forms of learning environments that connect students and educators through virtual platforms, with little to no in-person contact. Schools may consider full distance learning for immunocompromised staff and students, and keep it as an option for families to opt into based on their needs.  This new learning environment has required teachers and students to find new ways to interact. 


The concurrent (“hybrid”) classroom describes learning models that incorporate some component(s) of both distance learning and in-person learning. There are a variety of hybrid scenarios, but common versions may include rotating different cohorts of students on alternating weeks/days, or having set groups of at-home and in-person learners that get support from the teacher at different points in the schedule. 


The goal of hybrid classrooms is for the teacher to meet the needs of the students in class and online simultaneously. These can be some of the most challenging instructional scenarios, but blended learning models can make this situation more manageable. The station rotation model is one that is practical and can best support substitute teachers during hybrid or concurrent teaching.  (The Concurrent Learning Classroom, 2020)

The Station Rotation Model is a series of stations (or learning activities) that students usually rotate through physically or virtually. Given current restrictions on movement and supply sharing in classrooms, students will not physically move but rather progress through a series of learning activities -- a) teacher-led station, b) online collaborative station, and c) an online or offline independent station. 


Benefits of the station rotation model:

  • Create smaller learning communities within the larger class.
  • Spend time working directly with small groups of students. (This is especially helpful as teachers navigate between teaching to remote learners and in-person students in the hybrid model). 
  • Differentiate learning (e.g., instruction, scaffolds, practice, assignments).
  • Balance online and offline work to give students a break from the screen.


Tips for using the station rotation model in a concurrent classroom:

  • Use a set schedule to “rotate” or transition groups of students from activity to activity.
  • Have “may do” activities ready for students who pace more quickly through their work.
  • Host an offline teacher-led station for the in-class groups and an online teacher-led station for online groups using video conferencing software like Zoom or Google Meet.