If both yourself and your students are new to Microsoft Teams and have had little experience using it, you might be feeling slightly worried about being able to distribute all of the relevant resources to your students for them to revise properly in the the event that your school is faced with a remote learning situation.
I wanted to share a few learnings from the journey we have been on at St. Hele’s School in Plymouth to help settle concerns and ensure that you have everything set up in the right way to get you started with remote learning if and when necessary.
1. Remove distractions
The Head of Science at St. Hele’s School was also worried about the same situation when it came to using Microsoft Teams and the first thing we did was to set up the initial Teams site and customise the settings. One of his concerns was that students would be distracted by the chat facility and that this would open up a world of distractions in the form of GIFs and memes. Once the Teams site was set up, we went into the settings, switched off the chat facilities, and muted all students which removed their ability to post anything and would give us a bit more control when they were added to the Teams site.
2. Test and learn
When the students were added to the Teams site, they were able to easily access the relevant files they needed to revise from and weren’t distracted by anything in the first instance. We did try leaving the chat facilities on with another group of students but within minutes they had completely lit up the Teams site with lots of images and animated GIFs in their excitement. We do plan on bringing these fantastic features back but only once the students are fully familiarised with the Teams interface.
3. Customise channels and folders
The next stage was to set up the channels that we wanted to use within the Teams site. We decided to set these as private so that we could invite individual students to the right channel based on their year group. For example, only year 9 students were able to access the year 9 section. This made it easier for students to access the content that was relevant to them and their specific learning journey.
The most important thing to consider when setting this up the first-time round is to make sure that you have the folder structure that you wish to use that is ready to go. Teams has a fantastic feature that allows you to drag and drop your file structure into the files tab that you should be able to see in each of your channels. Any files you wish to be available for every student to see can be added to the files tab in the general channel.
Hopefully it has been useful to see how we’ve approached getting started with Microsoft Teams to help you with your own remote learning plans.