Online Survival Tips

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  • POSTED ON 13/05/2020 BY KATE

Survival Tips For “Hanging Out” With Learners

As seen on the ISASA website 6th May

 

These certainly are times that teachers have not been trained for, but are having to “lean into” (in the words of Sheryl Sandberg).

 

Online teaching is a whole new game, with different rules, and, quite simply, it is not what most teachers envisaged when starting their careers!

 

Our experience so far of teaching during lockdown, has shown that learners are craving more personal interaction. Pre-recording lessons or messages is certainly one option, but there is huge value in holding live discussions so students can ask questions, interact, and get a more traditional classroom experience. As many teachers have already experienced though, managing “online meets” needs a different approach to the in-person teaching we have been trained for!

 

With this new challenge in mind, Be In Touch have put together some useful tips for teachers, as they journey into the online teaching world:

 

Planning the meet

  • Focus on what matters most, and the key topics.
  • What are the key outcomes you want to achieve?
  • Don’t be tempted to try and squeeze too much into each meet.
  • Boundaries and schedules are crucial in teaching, but this is especially true for teaching online.
  • Block out the time each day to teach specific lessons and let learners know that during this time, you’ll be teaching and answering questions about that lesson only.
  • Set aside other time for any questions that learners may have, so you don’t get side-tracked or interrupted during an online activity or lesson.
  • Prepare video content, readings, assignments, or discussion questions ahead of time, so you can save the online time for actually teaching and helping students develop skills.
  • You may also want to ask participants to log in at least 5 minutes prior to the start of the meet, to test connectivity.
  • What you wear is more important than you think: striped shirts do not transmit well on camera, nor does large, shiny jewellery.

 

Managing the meet

  • Use a device that won’t be interrupted by other messages or calls.
  • Try to keep your body movements to a minimum, as too much movement is distracting and affects video quality.
  • Conduct roll call and verify that everything is working.
  • Review the timeline for the meet and what you want to achieve.
  • Give out a method to reach you offline, should a learner encounter technical problems.
  • If it is an option, a facilitator that can support learners with technical issues as well as monitor any chat questions that come in, is a great help.
  • To minimize background noise, you can opt to mute all attendees and only take questions via the chat box, or ask learners to raise their hands.
  • Keep each segment of the meeting short – no longer than 30 minutes, before giving everyone a quick break.
  • Even when you’re teaching online, it’s important to create a classroom setting that students want to engage with, so think about visual aids you can use.
  • A narrative approach to teaching will help you create a classroom setting that engages learners. Talk about yourself, share stories, and create fun learning opportunities. Call students by their names, remember details about them, and have stories throughout different lessons to really help you create a fun, comfortable classroom setting.

 

After the meet

  • Send out a message briefly recapping the lesson, reflecting on the discussion and confirming next steps, deliverables and timing.
  • Ensure that learners with poor wifi or a lack of technological support, are kept up to speed.

 

Teaching online has become our new reality, and given that this door has now been opened, we dont think it will ever completely shut. Getting it right can take learning new skills and changing our approach to teaching, but in the end it will hopefully create more opportunites for children to learn, and for teachers to do what they love.

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