In the midst of the pandemic, teachers were pushed into the future much faster than they thought. Before the emergence of the Covid-19 crisis, online teaching was an option that had only just begun to gain supporters and followers. In fact, at least in Peru, for many educational institutions investing in technological supplies such as laboratories, computers and electronic whiteboards was not a priority. However, from one day to the next we had no choice but to teach virtually.
It has been five months since we jumped into virtual teaching and so far each month has provided us with enough experience and knowledge not only to refresh our teaching strategies, but to incorporate new ones. Here are ten tips to boost your virtual teaching:
- Technology is your ally not your enemy: You may not be a fan of technology, but we must accept that virtual learning is here to stay. Feel no fear or anguish to learn everything you can about the different platforms such as Teams, Bb, Meets and apps to learn languages.
- Camera on or off? You should use your camera at least during these three very important segments of the lesson: at the very beginning so as to greet your students while presenting them with the objective of the session; when monitoring speaking skills, and at the end of the session not only to dismiss your students, but to help them become aware of what they´ve learnt in the session.
- Do not limit your session to the learning of grammar. Given that today there are many and very attractive interactive digital exercises, it is easy to overemphasize the teaching of grammar, losing sight of the fact that the main objective of any language course is to develop communicative skills in the language being learnt.
- Are all of your students “present” in your class? Virtual teaching requires that we develop the ability to ask the right question: a student’s response to an intelligently asked question is an accurate indicator of the student’s participation in the session, as well as of their understanding and learning.
- An effective evaluation system. In virtual courses students need to be informed, from day one, about the evaluation system that will be applied. To promote good development of language proficiency, oral production and student participation in class should be assigned a significant weight in the system. This discourages students from being tempted not to participate in the lesson.
6. Socializing is possible! Encourage socializing among your students. Virtual classes can run the risk of developing an individualistic learning style, so efforts should be made to promote a healthy cooperative learning style.
7. Do manage the visual impact. Presenting attractive material is essential in online courses. When creating your presentations using PowerPoint or other apps, avoid always using the same style in terms of colours, fonts, images, photos, etc. The variety in visual elements is a very powerful key in virtual teaching.
- How do you sound? Keep in mind that your voice conveys feelings, attitudes and mood. Unlike traditional courses, in online courses, especially when the cameras are off, the teacher’s voice plays a major role during the session.
- Guidelines for students’ interaction. A virtual course needs clearly established guidelines of what will or will not be allowed from the students in order to protect the learning atmosphere of the lesson. Unfortunately, some students may find it easier to misbehave or hurt a classmate’s feelings in a virtual session, so teachers should always promote a respectful interaction among students.
10. Teaching children virtually? A general rule of thumb: do not allow kids to get help from their parents now that the class is in full view of the family. Despite their good intentions, parents can put unnecessary stress on them that will ultimately affect students’ confidence in their own progress.