Virtual Learning: Recentering in the Craft of Teaching
Shannon Parker, Director of Innovation and Teaching

I have been an independent school teacher for over 20 years. In fact, next year marks my 25th year in teaching. So much has changed in that time frame, but two things have not: relationships and community. Independent schools do this well; however, I have found boarding schools do it the best. It is why I love being part of a boarding school community and why I particularly love being a community member of the Tilton School.  

You can imagine how difficult it has been to realize I won’t be walking into the dining hall every day and seeing my students and colleagues. The generally relaxed nature of care and concern we have for each other will not be physically present. I am very sad about this, but I am also really looking forward to virtual teaching and learning.  

I’ve been noodling over what my classes might look like as we move virtually: How do I want my students to engage with the content and context? How will I convict them of their knowledge? How will they grow in understanding of not only the material but of themselves? How can this experience make us better community members? 

Look at those questions, look at what they are driving me to consider. I know why I am excited–it is giving me an opportunity to recenter myself in the craft called teaching. I am looking forward to this gift of intentional time to collaborate with my students individually, coaching them to push their understanding and dig deeper into the material. I am excited about what opportunities this virtual teaching process will provide and how I will use it when we are all back together.

I know we will forever be changed by these current events, but I believe as educators, we will be changed for the better. Being with and around one another as an intentional learning community that believes in the power of potential will never be taken for granted again.  


  • Check your email regularly: Sorry kids, your teachers are older and use antiquated communication tools like email. Check it at least four times a day!

  • Keep a normal routine: Stick to your normal morning routine that you had while at school. If you showered and had breakfast before your first class, do the same at home. Change out of your pajamas and into “school” clothes. 

  • Establish a learning environment: Choose a work area that is separate from your living life, preferably a desk away from distraction. 

  • Actively participate in class: We all know when we ask questions and engage with our teachers and peers, we do better. Being virtual does not remove this as a crucial learning tool, it just means you have to be more intentional. 

  • Stay connected: Do what you can to stay connected while socially distancing yourself. Here are some ways to increase connectivity.


  • Dress to impress: Get dressed for virtual teaching just  as you did for in-person classes. 
  • Routine is the key: Create a new morning routine or continue the one you had. Research shows that those who employ routines in their daily practice stave off depression or anxiety with greater effectiveness. 

  • Maintain your workspace: Keep regular work hours, establish a work space, and communicate with people you live with about your work routine and needs. 

  • Schedule time to “meet”: If you have a weekly meeting with someone, maintain that. If you have regular meetings with a group, maintain that. We are a deeply connected community and staying together virtually will be very important. 

  • Take time for yourself: leave time for personal needs to recharge and find ways to virtually connect with friends and family. 


Shannon Parker joined the Tilton community in the fall of 2017 as the Director of Innovation and Teacher.

Holding a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Rochester and a Master's of Arts from Western New Mexico University, she brings a wealth of experiences having been a math teacher for 23 years, a coach of field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse, math department chair, Dean of Academic Affairs, Dean of Students for over 15 years, and dorm parent. 

Shannon can be reached at

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