This post is by a guest writer, named Rhonda Martinez. She wrote a fantastic article about teaching remote classes (online) and how to improve the experiences for both students and teachers! A big thank you to her for this submission!
Needless to say that teaching remote classes has never been as relevant as it has become during the COVID-19 pandemic. Within several months teachers had to switch to online education, and it would be a lie to say it was easy. Online teaching has both its benefits and its challenges. A particular difficulty involves making your lessons cohesive, when and if the Internet keeps dropping connection, someone’s parent is accidentally walking in their underpants behind a student’s back, or your students try all the possible ways to cheat during online testing. So is there any chill pill we as teachers may take to calmly deal with the situation? Luckily, there is, and in this article we will shed the light on the effective tips to make your lessons cohesive.
- You Will Need to Plan Even More
It sounds daunting, but it’s the truth. If you want your online lessons to be successful, you’ll need to plan ahead a lot. The most common mistake teachers make is outlining “what” they’re going to teach, without planning ‘how’ they’re going to do so. While it’s a bad idea when teaching offline, it turns into a disaster when teaching remote classes. The thing is that offline methods won’t always work online and you’ll just fail to grasp your students’ attention whatsoever. Playing it by ear may only be effective if a teacher has already been through particular activities online. In case you’re new to this, you’ll need to research, and learn how to teach different aspects online. Fortunately, there are tons of lifesaver applications and websites.
- Create Some Backstops Your Students Can Rely On
Your students are as new to this as you are. For this reason, they also feel anxious and overwhelmed with all the ambiguity and uncertainty of remote classes. As an educator you need to build some backstops common to any lesson. This is how your student will find it easier to navigate through your lesson. The crucial thing is to ensure your lesson has an introduction, the main part and the summing up part. “There should be some consistency, so that learners won’t be confused about what they need to do next and rather focus on the content of the lesson itself,” adds Veronica Briggs, teacher and case study writing specialist. It would also be a great idea to highlight or signal various activities, or parts of the lesson, so that when hearing a particular sound, or seeing a particular image on their screen students know what activity will follow.
- Interweave Interactive Activities Beforehand
The Internet offers an abundance of applications and websites to make teaching fun, entertaining and interactive. Still, you’ll need to think through working with such activities beforehand. Moreover, even make a so-called trial run to see what problems may occur during the lesson. That is how, you’ll be prepared and your lesson won’t be ruined by your anxiety and students’ confusion.
- Enjoy the Benefits of Breakout Rooms
If you’re familiar with Zoom, and you definitely are, then you should know about the advantages of breakout rooms. In short, breakout rooms allow you to divide students into small groups for discussions during the live lesson. Well, we already hear you thinking “How on Earth is it possible to control what they’re doing there?” We won’t lie to you, breakout rooms are a challenging activity. However, if you design your lesson the right way, your students and you will not be able to get enough of this activity. To make it work effectively, you need to set clear instructions on what the learners need to discuss, and most importantly make the objectives different for each group. This is how students will be more encouraged to carry out their discussions and compare their ideas with others.
- Take the Lead
Last, but certainly not least — you will need to guide your students through all the thick and thin of remote classes. Keep in mind that what seems obvious to you may and probably will look like rocket science to your students. For this reason, explain every single button, make screenshots and clarify all the instructions. Why don’t you even create a set of rules and instructions and upload them to google docs, or your online chat where every student can see it any time they need?
Summing up, as a teacher you know better than anyone that practice makes perfect. So to polish your remote classes to perfection, you’ll need to try out various methods and ideas to come up with the ways that will work for you. Make sure you learn about the subtleties of online education and invest your time in perfecting your methods of online teaching. Google Quizzes, Jamboard, Hangman, Padlet — are just a few applications that will come in handy, so don’t hesitate to try them out.