Isn’t it surprising how fast the world shifted towards Online Learning? Even those who have always advocated against it, saying it is not an effective way of learning, you need in person interaction to establish rapport with the students, etc have started to teach online quite successfully.
Online classes have proven to be quite effective and my firm belief is that with experience they will become as effective as face-to-face ones if not more.
As we have mentioned in one of our articles, online learning has solved some problems for the teachers and created some others.
It has saved us from the extensive amount of classroom management in terms of student behaviour (chatting, being late). Classroom monitoring has become more effective as we actually have a chance to listen to students’ speech when they are working in pairs in different online rooms. Feedback sessions have become more effective thanks to various online tools we’re using, etc.
It has created some issues with failing technology, busy websites, technical misfortunes, etc.
If you ask me, all of those are manageable in due time.
Here are a couple of things that I have come to realise when teaching online.
✅ Ask your students to check their audio and video settings before connecting to the meeting. This will give you a chance to avoid technical issues
✅ Ask your students to use videos during the class as it will give you a full picture of what is happening, what the students are doing, of who needs more attention, etc.
✅ Check if everything works in the beginning of the session. Make sure everyone can hear you, they can hear each other, they have access to the functionality of the platform, etc.
✅ Use the chat box for yes/no questions. Ask the students to put + for YES and — for NO when you ask them specific questions. For instance:
Are you ready for homework?
Can you hear me?
Is everything clear?
This will help you avoid several students talking at the same time. Similarly, if a student has a question, ask them to use the hand icon if you’re using ZOOM or send a question mark in the chat if you are using a different platform. This again, will help you structure the lesson better and avoid unnecessary interruptions.
✅ Share the material you are going to use during the class with your students before the class. It will be great if you have a powerpoint presentation with all the tasks, activities and instructions included. In this case your students will have just one resource to work with and you will not get lost in your files.
✅ Have a back up plan in case technology fails you. A lot of websites are very overloaded and can hang or freeze, so some things that you can do are — screenshot and save the activities you prepare for the lesson, ask the students to change their bowsers and refresh the web pages to access the links, share a pdf file of the presentation with your students, not just Google Drive or Onedrive.
✅ Set clear instructions to make sure the students don’t get lost in how to do the activity. Split the instructions to make it more clear. For example, instead of saying
Read the text below and answer the questions from 1-6 by giving as many details as possible.
You can say:
- Read the text below.
- Answer the questions from 1-6.
- Give as many details as possible.
✅ Ask the students to read the instructions on their own rather than doing it yourself. It will give your students time to understand the task in their own time. Ask instruction checking questions to see if the task is clear for everyone.
✅ Summarize the lesson in the end by asking the students to post in the chatbox the things they have learned during the session. It will show them the lesson outcome and they will feel more confident.
⭕️ Don’t plan a lot. Online classes take more time to assimilate the material and to practice it, as technology is involved. You want to keep it short and sweet.
⭕️ Don’t try to cover everything the course suggests. Choose wisely, by filtering what your students really need from the 10 page Unit 7.
⭕️ Don’t ask open class questions if you’re not using the char box. This will result in chaos in everyone talking at the same time and interrupting each other. Instead nominate the students.
⭕️ Don’t use a lot of pictures, visuals. This can tire the students and the point of the lesson can get lost. Plus, it takes a lot of preparation.
⭕️ Don’t use a lot of online resources. To make sure you are protected against technology fails, it’s better to screenshot and save the activities you want the students to cover.
⭕️ Don’t lecture. Make sure the students have enough time to work in groups and pairs and practice their speech using the target language and phrases.
⭕️ Don’t check homework during the sessions. This takes a lot of time. Provide a key instead if possible and talk over the questions during the session.
⭕️ Don’t panic. If things don’t work, don’t be afraid of telling your students about it and shifting to a different activity instead.
These were some practical things that have helped me so far to deliver stress free classes. What advice do you have for our teaching community?