When it comes down to responding to the CORVID-19 as a teacher, many are being required to deliver lessons and content remotely to their students. In fact, today I was informed that all teaching would be suspended until the following week with all courses being delivered online. Obviously, the amount of teachers that I have been in touch with via Twitter and Facebook have faced similar situations – even the PM, Boris Johnson, has recommended that all people who are able to teach online, where possible. It is drastic action, but it is necessary.
When teaching remotely, it is important to prepare and have the necessary equipment, skills and environment suitable to deliver remote lessons. In this blog post, I am sharing some things that need teachers should consider before delivering a lesson or input for a course.
1. Check Your Computer
The first thing that teachers should have is an up-to-date laptop or desktop computer. I would recommend that you turn it on, update any software and ensure that it is functioning properly. If there are any problems, it is best to check before delivering your first lesson. It is also important to see if your laptop or computer is capable of dealing with remote teaching. I would recommend the following minimum settings:
- Windows 10 or Mac OS Catalina
- Dual Core Processor i7 (minimum)
- 8GB DDR RAM (16GB DDR RAM recommended)
- 60GB HD Space (500GB HD Space recommended)
- Noise Cancelling Headset
- USB Webcam (Logitech)
- USB Microphone
- Minimum of 3 MBPS Internet Connection (Ethernet recommended)
You can read more about PC Specs and other aspects of computing for remote teaching with this blog post.
2. Watch Webinars & Attend Training
It is important to find suitable training to help you with the transition towards online teaching. Training can help with gaining that much needed confidence when teaching remotely. There are a number of training courses that I would recommend teachers to undertake when finding themselves having to teach remotely.
- “Take your teaching online” by Open University
- “Going Online: Nurturing Learning & Community During a Pandemic” by Ethical ELA
- “Three Things We Can Do To Quickly Transition To Online Teaching” by FreeTech4Teachers
There are plenty of other resources available to help teachers make the transition to teaching remotely and teachers just need to learn about possible tools and potential pedagogy.
3. Balance Live Teaching
One of the important aspects of remote teaching is the opportunity to deliver course content digitally. Obviously, the emphasis within a physical classroom is the interaction between students as well as student(s) to teacher. This is limited when applied with remote teaching. However, one aspect that you could you focus on when teaching remotely is student autonomy.
For example, if you have an hour and a half class, you could start the lesson with live asynchronous remote teaching for 20 to 30 minutes, discussing aims and objectives of the lesson, answering questions and setting up the lesson. The next step you could focus on is student guided writing, say with Google Drive, with all students creating a piece of writing as a project with them self-correcting. Just monitor and provide support where necessary but during this process you don’t have to be visible during the lesson but connected to Google Drive. This task could last up to 45 minutes depending upon how well the students are doing. The last 15 minutes could be focusing on grammar or vocabulary and providing feedback to students via a live asynchronous connection such as with Zoom or Skype.
4. Expect Mistakes & Reflect
When you are preparing for your first online lesson with your students, expect to make mistakes and embarrass yourself in front of your students. Make light of any difficulties that you are having and be honest with the students. Perhaps they can help you when you are struggling with the technology and may have suggestions to help.
The most important thing to consider once you have finished your first online lesson is to reflect and think about what you could have done better or differently to make the lesson more successful. Reflection is probably one of the most important skills that we try to encourage newly certified teachers to consider and incorporate change, so for experienced or non-experienced online teachers, reflect and consider changing aspects of your remote teaching.
Ask yourself: What worked well? What could be improved? What would I do differently in my next class? If you keep asking yourself these questions, you should find yourself improving overall.
5. Have A Break
Sitting in the same place for a few hours can be quite boring and you will need to stretch your legs. I recommend getting away from your desk every hour for at least 10 minutes at a time. Go to the kitchen, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee. Chat to your family and you will feel refreshed and ready to teach after a few minutes break.
When having a break, you will the opportunity to share some aspects of your remote teaching with your partner, flatmate or family and they will be able to offer their own insight. Feel free to share the difficulties that you face when teaching remotely and perhaps they will be able to offer some suggestions that you hadn’t thought possible.
6. Get A Comfy Chair
As you will be sitting down in front of your laptop or computer rather than walking around the classroom, you will start to notice how uncomfortable your usual dining room chair is – or whatever chair you are using currently to help you sit at your desk. One big recommendation that I have is that you invest in a good desk or gaming chair. They can be incredibly comfortable and will definitely save your back. Some decent chairs I recommend for remote teaching include:
- GTPlayer Gaming/Office Chair: £129.99 (I have this chair and it’s incredibly comfortable and easy to set up)
- Executive Recline Office Chair: £72.99
- JL Comfurni Computer Chair: £109.99
I wish all teachers now involved with remote teaching, the very best of luck and I am sure you will find what works for you. Please let me know if you have any questions by commenting below and should you any advice for teachers without any experience of delivering remote classes, then please comment below.