Page Updated: 12 January, 2021

Best Practices for home learning

The best learning will take place if you take the time to develop an environment and a routine conducive to learning. Here is what you can do to be successful.

  • Read all communication carefully. It is the only way to get important information to you.

  • Follow a consistent schedule each day and keep the same routines you usually would. Get out of bed, dress, and shower at your usual times and in your normal routine. Have breakfast as if headed to a typical day of school. By keeping the same routines, you prioritize that this is a school day, even if it feels very different.

  • Create a space that is suitable for learning and working. A desk is ideal. Items that are regularly needed should be easily available (pencil, paper, calculator, books, power-points for computer plug-ins, etc.) Keep the workspace free of clutter. If possible, make this space public so that you can monitor it easily. 

  • Sit in a comfortable chair that allows for good posture. Laying on your bed or sprawling on the floor is okay for an occasional change but should not be the norm. 

  • Keep distractions at a minimum. Turn off phones and instant messaging. Do not allow other siblings to watch TV or movies in the background. All siblings should work at school at the same time, if possible. Turn off instant messaging on the computer and disable pop-ups; close unneeded tabs in your browser window. 

  • Consider installing monitoring software, especially if you need to be away while your older kids are home working. Software can help you keep tabs on your student’s online activity. There are many applications available. Freedom, Qustodio, and Covenant Eyes are all good options. Talk with our tech team for help with tech. The Tech department can help answer technical questions – 

  • Parents should support learning in specific ways.

    • Be available to help. Encourage students to stay focused. Keep an eye on how your kids are spending time and redirect them to be productive. Do not allow essential tasks to get put off or drag on. 

    • Help your student with the technology to not become a stumbling block that causes frustration or inhibits the learning process. 

    • Make it your family goal to finish school in a reasonable time and then schedule rest and leisure activities once the hard work is completed. 

    • After a day of sitting, exercise is more needed than ever, but when inertia sets in, the tendency will be to sit some more in front of another screen and watch TV. Set a routine and expectation for daily exercise. 

Parents, please stay engaged. Even the most motivated students will benefit from a parent who is aware of what happens each day and checks upon the student’s progress.

Technology Platforms

Zoom: We will use Zoom for video conferencing and as our classroom meeting space. Scheduled classes will all start with a Zoom meeting. See the schedule below. Treat these meetings as though you are attending class face-to-face. 

Online  Meeting Etiquette: 

  • Focus your full attention on the class that is currently meeting.

  • Work in a quiet space without distractions.

  • Video is required to be on during Zoom calls.

    • We understand that there may be times when it is necessary to turn your video off briefly for privacy reasons.
    • The general rule is that your video should be on when you are attending Zoom meetings. This is a courtesy to your classmates and teachers who want to see faces looking back rather than black screens.
  • Dress appropriately.

    • Your clothing does not have to be uniform or fancy.
    • Do not wear what you were sleeping in.
  • Your Zoom video should be high quality.

    • Be clearly visible with good lighting.
    • Sit close enough to the camera to fill most of the frame.
    • Position the camera so that it is close to eye level (no-one wants to spend the whole class looking up your nose).
    • Be aware of your background and distractions.
    • Be seated with the camera on a solid platform.
    • Do not use a handheld phone/pad.

DIScourse:  Start each class period here. You will find a link to your class Zoom meeting posted here. Each one of your teachers will post in the announcements for their class. If you ever wonder what you need to get done on a given day, DisCourse is the place for you to find this information, including the following.

  • Daily Updates: Teachers will use DIScourse as the first place each class period to look for instructions about required assignments, readings, activities, and assignments.

  • Submitting Assignments: Use DIScourse; do not submit assignments through email.

Google Drive: As is our standard procedure, file sharing and saving will use Google Drive. Ensure that your files are all syncing and backed up to the cloud not to lose any of your work. 

Email: You should check your school email and clear your inbox at least one time per day. I will communicate with you using email, and important school-wide updates will be shared using email. Do not leave messages sitting in your inbox or get behind reading them. This is a good opportunity to learn the critical life skill of managing emails. However, email is not how you should communicate with your teachers. Instead, use Teams. 

Microsoft Teams (messaging): Quick communication back and forth with a teacher or with other students can be done using Microsoft teams. It is also a useful tool for video conferencing and collaboration. Teams will be used for individual back and forth, small group chats, or messaging the whole class. 


The class schedule will require students to be online at particular times each day to interact with classmates and teachers. Teachers will also have regular hours that they are online and available to answer questions and respond to student needs. Focus your full attention on the class that is currently meeting. Your teachers will work to complete much of the work during their scheduled block to limit the amount of homework that you have outside of the scheduled class block. Please note this is modified slightly from the last time we were online.

  • A-days (blue) and E/F-days (gold)
    • There will be a Zoom meeting to begin each class on a “Blue day” or “Gold day”—plan on attending these classes at the indicated times.
    • The Zoom may be a short check-in, or it may be a full lecture. Please show up to the meeting on time as a way of showing respect to your classmates and teacher. You only need to check into Discourse for the classes scheduled to meet on these days. e.g., on a “Blue day,” you only need to check into A, B, C, and D blocks.
  • Lightning days
    • All classes have time allocated to meet and assign work. Students will either have an assignment or a Zoom call. The teacher will let you know ahead of time if there is a required Zoom meeting on lightning. Students must check into Discourse for all classes on these days, even if there is no Zoom meeting.

A couple other important things to note…

We will not have an “NFL” list. 

    • If students do not turn in an assignment in a timely fashion, you will receive a score of a “0”. 
    • Generally, work will either be due at the beginning of your “class period” or at 10 pm on the due date (your teacher will communicate deadlines to you).
    • After seven days, you will not be allowed to submit late work, and the zero will be permanent. Part of the skill of online learning is keeping up with deadlines. 

Online class through other providers: If you are currently taking an online course through a provider, this is just a friendly reminder that they follow their schedule. They may not take breaks at the same time as us, and you are responsible for keeping up with their expectations.

Finally, here is one more quick word to all parents. Please remember that even though your children are hard workers, there will be challenges. Communicate regularly with your kids about how they are doing and how you can provide appropriate support for their learning. A parent who has experience with home-schooling shared the following thoughtful approach to supporting her kids in online learning.

“Consider getting started at the beginning of the day with a Morning Meeting (we call ours Super Start). Setting a time and place for this meeting (i.e., 7:30 pm on the couch) can help keep a consistent schedule. Set this time as a ‘connection’ point with your student to encourage communication and keep you all on the same page. You may even want to jot down the answers to questions in a notebook. (or create a print out) Some questions to ask your student might include

  • How did you sleep?
  • Are you feeling healthy or sick?
  • On a scale of 1-10 what is your stress level today?
  • Do you have any tests or quizzes today/this week?
  • What can I help you or support you in today?
  • Do you need any help with communicating with teachers?
  • How will you bless, serve, or unify our family/those around you today?
  • How can I pray for you today? (These are just some of the questions that I ask. Praying aloud for the child in front of the child is also recommended) 

The whole thing takes 5-10 minutes.Conversely, parents may consider doing an end of school day check-in with each student. One idea is a ‘release sheet.’ This gives some definition to the end of the day. List each subject on a piece of paper and have the students mark what they have completed and a brief description of what they worked on that day.

HS Guidance Update / NOTES

A Block Study Hall Homeroom:

  • No check in unless there is a special task – I will contact you directly as needed for that.

February 6 ACT and March 13/May 8 SATs:

  • We do all we can to continue providing these external tests. Based on MOE guidelines right now the ACT and SATs are still ON.
  • If it gets cancelled I will let you know asap. If you are worried, there is still room for future dates.
  • Non-Dalat people may transfer as well, so act fast if want to transfer dates with College Board.
  • Lots of room still available for SAT (below) and ACT as well.

Academic Probation Meetings:

  • I will reschedule our brief weekly appointments and email you directly for new meeting times.
  • I may also invite one of your parents to participate in the meeting as well as they are your new “proxy teachers”.

Office Hours:

  • MTRF: 3:00-4:30 pm
  • W: 1:30-4:30 pm
  • Study Hall: Any time from 8:30 am onwards if you have a Study Hall.
  • Use this Calendly link to book an appointment (allows you to book 24 hours in advance).


I’ll have Teams up from 8:30-4:30 pm for quick answers, but if your question involves a long answer, I’ll either email or ask you to do a Teams video call.

Emergency Needs:

  • Students, if you are in a life-threatening situation and need to call, please call me at the number I sent you in an email.
  • For all other needs, please use Teams or eMail.

Paul Dobson
High School Counselor / AP Coordinator