Being a teacher is a lot more than just delivering knowledge on a certain subject. If you happen to work in education for a long time you might experience overwhelming depression or even burnout. It is quite a natural process when year after year you have to go through the same set of topics to cover. And now the lockdown of 2020 has confined us within rigid boundaries that might have added extra pressure on many professionals including teachers. But surprisingly I have fallen in love with my profession one more time, and this time it looks like forever.
I must admit that I used to be a bitter enemy of teaching or studying online and even now I can provide you with some serious arguments supporting that idea. But the moment I stepped into a virtual classroom the whole new world of teaching tools, activities, and tasks opened in front of me. Here are some cool discoveries that are still helping me to live through the pandemic nightmare.
Control board instead of the white one
From the very beginning, it was a bit unusual to work sitting in your cozy armchair and managing the class via the laptop most of the time. But, once a new routine has been set, the feeling of normality comes into existence. There is no need to check the attendance as any platform you work on keeps track of people who showed up for the class, as long as the students use their real names, that you can ask them to do from the very beginning.
In addition, the question of memorizing names is resolved. I personally feel a lot more confident when I can address students by their names, and during a traditional teaching routine, it takes time to memorize all the names in the list referring to the right person sitting at the desk. Even if you try your best, once in a while you can still get in a situation of using the wrong name when asking and looking at a student. Despite having quite a long teaching experience I still feel embarrassed a bit in such moments. In a virtual class, all the names are shown on the screen, which is very helpful… you build the connection with the class faster and that makes students feel a lot comfier and welcomed during the class.
Dynamicity and variety
If you consider yourself to be a creative person and enjoy doing something beyond the coursebook, this is the way to work. It is possible to load the classes with different videos without being concerned that multimedia might pull the rug from under your feet. As a result, you will have to wrap up the activity and go on to do some other exercises in order to save the class.
Your students, as well, have access to the Net, this opportunity can be utilized for small projects or research that can be done together or in small groups. Needless to say, that you do have an option to connect any of the groups and overhear what students are talking about, so you do have control over the process. By using these modern techniques students are more easily engaged rather than when they are offered just a coursebook published in the previous decade or even century.
Inviting a guest for the class
The Internet has washed away all our borders. The biggest advantage is a chance to have someone from another country join the class and have a discussion with your students. Before the lockdown, we could do the same but for some reason, it was not practiced that much. Speaking for myself… at least I could have done it more regularly.
Working in online classrooms and inviting a guest seems to be a crucial part of the teaching routine with a bunch of benefits for the students. Someone can say that students can find foreign friends themselves and chat with them outside the schedule. Firstly, they are youngsters who don’t feel confident to initiate conversations with a stranger due to many reasons, so the teacher’s hand can turn out to be a crucial motivation. Secondly, this chat can be controlled to some extent with a positive outcome. For instance, the topic of the discussion can be chosen according to the syllabus and you can always talk your guest through the recommended vocabulary that students use, ultimately students will do the same… so that is exactly what we are aiming for: fluency might go hand in hand with accuracy!
Flexible schedule while tutoring
More and more people are taking up a new language, but quite often they struggle to find time in their busy lives. When there is no need to come to a certain place in order to take a class, it seems to be a lot easier to win an hour to study. When the pandemic is over, I think my dream of teaching a class while sitting in the shadow of a palm tree somewhere in a hot country will come true!
But as of now, I am back to teaching in a combination of online and offline classrooms, and I can say that I’m a fence sitter. But I am definitely enjoying my new experience of managing classes via a control board. If the lockdown lets you discover or rediscover something you really like, please leave a comment below in the comment box! Enjoy your coffee!