Wednesday, April 1, 2020
If you had done a survey a few months ago amongst English teachers about whether they had heard of an online meeting platform called Zoom, I’m certain that you would have got very few people saying yes. Fast forward a month or two and Zoom’s share prices have, well…zoomed, and we are all using an online teaching platform of some sort to teach our classes and interact with our colleagues. Alongside this, we have also had to adapt to teaching and working from home, which us teachers are not used to. You could say it’s been somewhat of an upheaval to our daily lives and the way we interact with everyone around us.
There are so many things we have learnt about online teaching that we would never have learnt otherwise, and this has been one of the real positives to take away from the experience and will benefit many teachers in the future. However, this isn’t the only thing we have learnt over the past few weeks.
Here are the 10 things we have taken from our surprise online teaching experience so far.
As an inherently nosy person, I always like to be able to see into people’s houses and this has been a fantastic opportunity to do that. It’s also interesting to see how students behave in their natural habitats rather than in the classroom setting. If you’re lucky, you might also get a glimpse of a few family members to add to the fun.
Whilst it’s a whole load of fun for you to peek inside students’ houses, it’s also great fun for them to see inside yours. They might already have an idea about the type of house you may live in, but this is their confirmation. It’s also a great way for them to see you as a real person rather than someone who just exists at school. I swear some children must think we live there.
We all have those students who find it hard to communicate in class and it seems it would be easier for us to get blood from a stone. However, having a screen in between them and the rest of the class seems to work a treat for some students. It’s great to see them actively participating in class like never before. Perhaps we should let them just sit outside the classroom in the future and interact with the class through the door or something.
Many teachers are also over the moon that classroom management has turned out to be much easier. Students aren’t able to distract each other and are generally more engaged in the class as they only have the screen to concentrate on. Winning.
As a result of the above, you get through SO much more material than you would in a face-to-face class. This is positive in the sense that you can finally get through what you had planned, but also means that you are sometimes left with time at the end of the lesson that you have to fill. You have to come armed with plenty of up-your-sleevies.
I mean, they can be really funny in class, but it seems that confinement has added to the humour that some students bring to the virtual learning environment. Whether it be students showing you all of the toys they have in their room or talking about what their families have been doing to annoy them, it all makes for a healthy dose of daily hilarity and plenty of stories to tell.
You may be the only one that students speak to outside of their families all day and it’s great for them to be able to see you and the rest of their class, albeit on a screen. We shouldn’t underestimate the value of this time and how much the students appreciate it breaking up their day of working/studying. Some students love it so much that they pester you to start the class earlier than normal.
Who knew that you could learn a whole new skill a new way of working in a matter or days or even hours? Whilst it was quite the shock and stressful experience when we were all sent home for the foreseeable future, it’s nice to know what we can still shine in times of uncertainty and pull it all out of the bag at the last minute to make it work.
Of course, it always does but now more so than ever. We are all used to going to work everyday and being surrounded by our students and fellow teachers that it might seem strange for us to be teaching from home. This has been a time of adjustment for everyone and is also the time when solidarity amongst teachers is stronger than ever before. Sharing ideas, sharing stories, keeping each other’s spirits high- it all makes for a much more enjoyable and easier experience all round.
Normally when you are teaching, you’re lucky if you look at yourself in the mirror once, maybe twice a day- and that’s just to check you don’t have any of your lunch stuck in your teeth before class starts. With online teaching you can see your face ALL THE TIME and it’s a little disconcerting to say the least. At least we only have to worry about what we look like from the shoulders up in the morning!