Teachers are moving their classes to an online environment, either provided by their schools or on their own. Some will be able to choose the online spaces they want to use and the resources that come with them, others might not. Whether you have a say in this matter or not, I hope this post becomes useful when coming to make decisions about your own teaching.
Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can with what you have, so BE KIND to yourself.
After all, this is not our usual days and no one really had a choice.
So, take into consideration the emotional state that you and families might be with this situation and TAKE IT EASY.
The number of students plus the learning objectives and pedagogical view of learning define the pedagogical strategies and resources that will be implemented. For example, in a setting where we work with a group of 15 students in a classroom and the aim is to develop their oral communicative skills, it is possible to develop their speaking skills through pair/small group work. In a regular school, the emphasis is much more on understanding language through texts and grammar than develping their speaking skills. Thus, teachers have other goals. At least this is what happens in most regular schools in Brazil. Therefore, can you actually go online and replicate what you do in physical spaces, face2face classes you are used to?
Apparently, in regular schools one of the strategies that teachers are using is recording video lessons and sending out activities. Lecturing is delivered face2face in class, so through video recording or live session, they can be delivered too. But how about engagement of learners with the content and with each other? Decisions should be taken based on what you know about your context, your learners and the learning goals you are trying to achieve. But right now, most importantly, is the connections we can create with the students and parents to support one another that matters. I agree though, that keeping teaching and learning right now can be an opportunity to keep moving forward and take our minds off the problem. But let’s not create new ones by doing so. School should be mindful of how much they are trying to send home and not put the responsability on parents. Cooperating with parents is key now. Use this opportunity also to create a community, where sharing and caring matters more than the content.
- Each group of students is unique. Be it in a regular school or language school, even in the same school. Don’t take that for granted.
- For each group you have, think of how many students you had in a physical class and lower your expectations. Don’t expect to have the same number of students attending a live session, for instance. Or doing all the tasks you assign. Depending on the number of students you have, the technical problems they might have and how them and their families are dealing with the confinement. The number of students attending a live session will vary.
- Communicate with students and/or parents to check what devices they have and whether they can access certain platforms or tools before choosing them. Also check the best time to have live sessions and if they have internet to support it. We also need to consider that some parents are working from home and we have to negotiate with them. Sometimes, students don’t have computers at home or a cellphone themselves. Some of my students only have their parents’ phones.
- Taking into consideration the points that had been stated above, don’t over assign tasks/activities. Define one or two objectives, strategies to achieve them and how you will manage the process. If you are going to record or share videos, decide what the learning outcome will be and what else learners will do based on the video/text/audio you have sent.
- If you are recording or selecting videos, keep them short and apply sound principles. Take a look at this video to learn more about the 12 principles of multimedia learning design.
- Decide how you will manage the teaching/learning process. Will you use a learning management system (Google classroom, Edmodo, Teams, etc)? Or will you just have live sessions and a communication tool like Whatsapp or another messaging tool?
I highly recommend this webinar by Angelos Bollas. The webinar gives you a great overview of transitioning from face-to-face to online teaching.
As an English teacher, I know the challenges we are facing with this transition and I am trying to keep all that in mind myself to simplify the process.
As a specialist in Educational Design and Information and Communication Technology, I know the process of designing, delivering and assessing online course is much more complex. So right now, I’m just trying to deal with the emergent need to move the classes to online spaces and support other teachers. I’ll share my lesson plans soon and share what my context is right now and how I have moved my local classes.