The world has entered the era of online teaching and learning, and that means a lot of changes for educators.
We recently published a blog post on the challenges faced when teaching from a distance, which touched on concepts like keeping students motivated, building community, and video conferencing “hacks” for keeping distractions to a minimum.
But what if you have taken these steps and are still struggling to teach online with confidence. This intangible ‘soft skill’ is what allowed you to excel in the physical classroom, but for some reason, you can’t bring the same kind of energy to the online space. So how can you get your confidence back and learn how to teach online with confidence?
Read on for our guide on how to confidently teach remotely.
Foster and Build Relationships Online
Relationship-building in the classroom has been hit hard by the shift to online learning. Usually, this is a key element of student success, but now it is that much harder to grow a meaningful educational relationship through a screen.
This goes for 1-on-1 teacher-student relationships and inter-student relationships, both of which are important for different reasons.
So how can you implement this into the virtual classroom? It is difficult for casual one-on-one conversations to happen organically. It’s even harder to read body language and expressions to get a sense of whether students are engaged and motivated.
Here are some strategies that you can put into place.
Try Out a “Soft Start”
Starting a lesson can often feel like going from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye.
Students who are waiting for a class to start in a video conferencing room are unlikely to have any meaningful conversation with each other. Once an instructor joins, it is easy to dive into course content right away.
Try out a “soft start” to transition into the lesson with activities like quiz-based games, discussions about current events, or moving students into smaller breakout rooms to discuss reflection questions from out-of-class assignments.
This gets students talking and engaged, and also gives them an opportunity to speak about their life outside of the classroom if they wish.
Incorporate Group Work
The group breakout room feature can be one of your best friends. Use it often to use group work in most or all classes, and be sure to switch up breakout groups every few weeks.
Keeping students in the same breakout group for too long can backfire if they don’t work well together and do not have a say in the matter. Ask for feedback from your groups about how they enjoyed the group-learning experience, so that you consider their needs when you plan more exercises.
Leverage the Power of Video
For many online educators, video conferencing can seem like a hindrance or a disadvantage. After spending their careers working on their delivery in person, it’s understandable that the move to remote teaching leads to complaints about what is missing from the in-class experience.
But to teach online with confidence, educators will need to learn ways to teach better with video. This is especially true for pre-recorded video lessons, which can save instructors a lot of time in the long run, even if they take a lot of time to produce in the first place.
To create effective video lectures, try to remember these principles:
- Be Concise: Avoid long-drawn-out lecturing and speaking without providing some visual stimulus on the screen. If certain concepts take less time to explain, you should make a shorter video densely-packed with information. This is imparative to master how to teach online with confidence.
- Don’t worry about production: It’s unlikely that your students are expecting YouTube travel vlogger-level production from your lesson. Focus on content and delivery instead of worrying about technical aspects of the video lesson. But by all means, make sure that you have a decent quality microphone and position your camera at eye level.
Manage Expectations – Take Small Wins
Part of the online teaching journey is realizing that progress takes time to happen.
If you expect that you will be rewarded for all of your hard work with a sea of engaged faces on your Zoom screen, remarking on how class is so much better online – you will likely be disappointed.
To confidently remotely, you will need to focus on small wins and specific tasks. Set manageable and realistic goals for your online course, instead of trying to adopt too much at one time. Some examples of “small wins” that you can try for in your classroom include:
- Using your virtual teaching platform’s virtual breakout rooms for the first time
- Build a short quiz-based game through a tool like Kahoot or Quizlet and invite a small number of your students to try it out. If successful, adapt it for the entire group.
- Set a goal of completing one lesson without disruptions from “hot mics”.
Each of these small wins can help to motivate you and make you feel more confident. It is also building your competency with technology and tools in the classroom.
Most importantly, do not fear failure or falling short of your goals. This is part of the process of adapting to this new medium of teaching.
Bringing Confidence to the Classroom
Confidence in the classroom takes time. It relies on trusting your tools and methods and being comfortable with your group of students. But it’s also about taking risks – even if it might lead to some roadblocks along the way.
Through taking risks you can achieve progress in your online teaching methods. This takes time, but little by little you will find yourself miles ahead from where you started.
One step that you can take today is to simplify your online teaching platform. DaDesktop is a long-distance virtual teaching platform that is designed for ease of use.
With lightning-fast setup and a competitive price point, DaDesktop is making a case for you to step away from industry giants when choosing your platform – and instead invest in a solution with the same features you would expect from Google Classroom or other competitors (breakout rooms, screen sharing, and unlimited course storage), but at a lower price with friendly service.