Though there are many distinctions between Online Learning and in-person education, many of us can recognize the differences when encountered with the necessity to do so. Contrary to popular belief, many of our teaching abilities are more adaptable to online instruction. Children still look to us to keep them engaged and teach them new things even when they are no longer physically in the same place as us and we are no longer dispersing papers and giving them permission to use the restroom and etc.
Aside from the logistical and technical restraints added to teachers’ occupation throughout the world in 2020, new ways to engage are also available. Every day, a new challenge will emerge and each student will require a different style of engagement to properly benefit from it. But I hope these few points help you to make the most of online teaching in your own virtual classrooms:
1 — Make mental and technological preparations in advance
People often claim that carrying a camera will make them gain 10 pounds, but in reality, it will also make you feel 10% less energetic. Kids and children are also very perceptive, and they can tell when you are stressed or depressed. Remember what NOT to say to them, even though it will be exhausting and nothing will go perfectly. When you begin a day or a school year with a statement like, “I know that is a bad situation everyone, let’s just get through it the best we can”, it immediately makes them feel as though they should not be anticipating what is ahead.
It will mean so much to every aspect of the online experience if you remain upbeat and share the joy you would have felt with them every day when they entered to your classroom. Welcome them with enthusiasm to your online meetings just like you would be at the entrance of your classroom.
Inevitably, there will be a technological problem, whether it be a slow internet connection or a system failure preventing you from reaching your students. Actively distributing materials to parents once a week or once a month is one way to make sure your students still have something for learning. When that time arrives, you can pull out the pre-made contents that will keep children involved for at least part of that day, and they will thank you for saving them from having to figure out how to keep them entertained while they are trying to work. Moreover, please be honest with parents about the likelihood that there will be technical problems eventually; they will appreciate you later for being proactive rather than reactive in this regard.
2 — Establish expectations with parents
I do believe, like a regular school year, the most appropriate thing that a tutor is able to do is early involvement of parents. Do not wait up until a problem emerges. Make a phone call and send them email for those that missed to assure that any expectations hereof are being laid out and understood. We must make sure that parents and teachers are working together more than ever. It takes parents to make sure their kids are actively participating in online classes and getting the most out of their education.
Parents will not have time to sit and observe their children within the school days and they should not. But you should have quick and high-level check-ins to let them know whether or not their child is meeting expectations of online learning. It is critical to establish early on that your role as a teacher is involvement of students and helping them in learning and that parents are expected to assist when student prospects are not met.
3 — Establish expectations with students
Although students do not physically attend your classroom, they still need to remind expectations, just like their parents do. They have something to hold themselves accountable when expectations are established up front by you.
I assume that you listen carefully to everyone speaking, avoid talking over others, and dress every morning as though you were attending the classroom. Their ability to focus can be significantly improved even after you simply change them out of their pajamas and put them in their shorts and t-shirt. It should be simple to persuade the older students that it is necessary if they are aware that they will be captured on camera during active sessions. Of course, having a Friday pajama party is never a bad idea for those young adolescents.
4 — Reduce distractions for them
Distractions are construed as inevitable in the in-person classrooms. We also do a pretty good job of arranging things to limit them. Everything can count as a distraction in home, when students are surrounded by their brothers or sisters, pets as well as their toys, in particular. Younger children are supposed to need more time for learning, however, having them practice how to do simple things including unmuting themselves or teaching them how to turn on their cameras is a good commencing point. Start by actively practicing these skills in classes because it will be helpful and you cannot always rely on parents to provide them with assistance when required.
If you could teach young and adolescent learners how to change their background to something appropriate, how to remain silent unless called upon or asking a question, and how to use the chat and question and answer (Q & A) features, everyone (young and adolescent students) would benefit. You’ll need to find a way to hold older children accountable so they don’t spend all of their time on social media or their phones.
5 — Increase Face Time
No, they are not conversing on their iPhones. Make sure you can see them for the majority of the day and make the most of the time when your face is their primary screen. They can quickly change their attention in a classroom from the board to your face. In an online environment, your face is frequently very small and the shared materials are displayed on the screen. Of course, whatever task you’re working on—whether it’s a math problem or sentence editing—should be in the foreground. Switch the focus from the small bullet points on the screen to your face if you have a paragraph to say about it so that everyone is paying attention.
Within a classroom, it’s simple to spot a student who is not paying attention. It will be more challenging to see their body language because they are on cameras, but you can usually tell them when they are not paying attention to you because their eyes are scanning too quickly, are turned away, or are drooping. If they keep their cameras on, you can quickly interact with them by asking some questions or giving them a task, but if they are not streaming, you won’t know whether they are even in their seat.
6 — Maximize Semi-Synchronous Learning
Students have access to semi-synchronous learning options in the vast majority of schools. In other words, they are not actively learning throughout the entire virtual call but they are also not simply given instructions to fully complete everything without any guidance hereof. This seems like the proper approach to virtual learning to me.
You shouldn’t give them time away from the computer, in my opinion, because you never know when they’ll decide to come back. Instead, after assigning a task to learners and students, let them know that every person shall remain on the call and independently work. Yes, even you might find it a little bit strange at first, but in doing so, you are holding them responsible for finishing their assignments and making yourself available in case they have any questions in this regard. With your specific class, you’ll be able to measure how long these sessions can be. However, you can see what suits you and your students in the best way.
7 — To maximize interactions, you can apply various ways
Having students prepared to at any time indicates their level of understanding of the subject at hand by giving you a thumbs up or making a hand sign, which is the simplest way to increase interaction hereof. A lot more can be done with online learning than you could in a traditional classroom where only one student could answer a question at a time. You could, for example, ask a question in the chat and have everyone type their own response, but you could wait to press send until everyone is finished. Afterward, have them take a look and find another person having a similar answer to theirs. This makes it simple for students to approach your lessons in a more analytical and interactive way.
Utilize their computers as well. Enabling them to conduct their own research is a great experience, but we want to keep them safe and make sure that we are not sending them on a scavenger hunt to unintentionally land on a website that is inappropriate for them to be on. You could guide younger students and learners to be on a website like NASA or Discovery Education on which they may learn more about specific subjects and share their learnings. While the amount of time students spend on screens in the classroom is frequently restricted, “now” is the perfect time to teach them how to use them effectively, not confined to video games.
There are countless additional strategies for online learning that are valuable to be discussed and shared. None of us will be able to get through the first week of the school year without any mishaps or technological issues, with every student attends every day, and / or giving every subject the attention that it deserves. However, you shall continue to influence their lives by assisting them in learning and obtaining new competencies and information. You are the one that they can rely on constantly.