Eleven Lessons for Online Teachers

Our world has been going through a rapid and unexpected transformation since 2019. With the advent of COVID things that were familiar and routine had to be replaced by creative and innovative ideas in order to continue living, working, being. Teachers had to adjust to empty classrooms, screens, video calls, distance learning, and teaching from home. 

It is not for the faint-hearted, it is quite a challenge actually, and you might find that it requires more time, energy, and preparation than on-site classroom teaching. In this article, we are trying to provide some useful tips for online teaching which may help you navigate this bold new world we find ourselves in. 

1. Don’t Be a Slob

Just because you teach from the comfort of your home it does not mean that you can wake up a few minutes before your class, put a sweater on top of your pajamas, and you are ready to go. You do yourself – and your audience – a service if you get up in time, clean up, get dressed, have some breakfast, and review what you are going to teach. This is just as much part of self-care as going for a massage to a spa. Your soul will know you care about it and will repay you with kindness.

2. Your Sacred Space

You might be sharing your space with a roommate, a partner, or your family, and if you have a child or children also at home you might find it hard to juggle between the roles of a teacher, wife or husband, mother or father. It is essential that you have your sacred space of work, even if it means just a partitioned little nook where you can conduct your teaching undisturbed, and everyone around you knows to respect that space.

3. Pick and Choose

By now most teachers are familiar with their choice of application for conducting their classes online, may it be Teams, Zoom, Skype, Hangouts, or WeChat, potentially in combination with Google Classroom. If you are at the beginning of your online teaching journey, it is a good idea to play around with all of the above-mentioned apps, check out the available features and tools, and familiarize yourself thoroughly with the app of your choice.

4. Have What It Takes

It goes without saying that high-band connectivity is essential to do any sort of online activity, especially teaching. Make sure you have unlimited data and well-functioning Wi-Fi. You may need an extra router in case your home office is in a part of your home where your Wi-Fi signal is weaker. Check your gear, such as headphones, microphones, and cameras. You should have the latest updates of your preferred app in order for it to work seamlessly. If your hardware is older you might want to invest into a newer version for speed and efficiency. 

5. Be a Pro

Some online teachers really master their trade and use a wide range of the features available on their chosen app, such as screen sharing, built-in interactive whiteboard, file and media sharing, online polls, and peer collaboration features. Make sure you know how to use them like a pro. Students are technologically savvy for the most part, and they immediately notice if you fumble. You show them you care by knowing your way around the apps.

6. Attention, Please! 

Remember not to lecture forever but rather have more interaction. This is essential if you want to keep your students engaged and not lose their attention after ten minutes of class time. They quickly lose interest if you are the only one talking. Ask for their opinions, listen to them, and use your tools, such as breakout rooms, to provide a space for one on one interaction.

7. Be a Team

Many feel isolated in this time of the pandemic, even if they are surrounded by their family, let alone if they are single. Working from home alone is challenging for students and teachers alike. You are in this together. Academics are important, but making time for sharing and voicing your experiences, feelings, and concerns is just as important if not more so. Depression and self-harm among young people have skyrocketed recently, psychologists’ schedules are chock full of appointments. Build a safe online community where students can freely express themselves. You are in this together, be a team.

8. Content, Content, Content

Creating amazing and engaging content is vitally important. It will take more time and effort to prepare for these classes. Teachers are typically professionals with a strong work ethic, and the results of your conscientious preparation will be very rewarding. Students’ attention span seems to be even shorter in front of a screen than in the classroom, and they have much more unsupervised distractions available in the privacy of their homes. Using videos, games, breakout rooms for small group interaction, Quizlet, Kahoot, Charades, Padlet, and other fun apps will keep them engaged for longer.

9. Let Time Slip

Traditional blocks of fifty or sixty-minute long classes can become a bore for your students even if you are the master of online teaching. Sitting in front of a screen has multiple adverse effects not only on the eyes, but on the spinal cord and muscles as well. Make sure your class time is shortened, allowing for more time to stretch, avert your eyes from the screen, and relax. 

10. Let Them Be

Remember that your students during distance learning do not get face-to-face interaction with their peers, they do not spend their recess time together, and do not have a chance for small talk. Finishing a class earlier occasionally and logging off while allowing them to stay online to interact and goof off in the online space might be beneficial for their social-emotional well-being and yours. Let them be, and get a cuppa!

11. Just Breathe

Speaking of getting a cuppa. Let’s be honest, online teaching can get a bit mundane and discouraging after a while. You will need to shake things up a bit from time to time, change things around, come up with new ideas, and even allow yourself to be silly sometimes to keep yourself sane. Make sure you get enough rest, go on walks, exercise, and breath! Do not deplete your batteries, but do what works for you to feel good about yourself. You are worth it!

Sophia Anderson

Sophia Anderson is a blogger and a freelance writer. She is passionate about covering topics on money, business, careers, self-improvement, motivation and others. She believes in the driving force of positive attitude and constant development.