10 Tips and Insights from Virtual Teaching Pros
At the World of Learning, we have been teaching online since before the pandemic. Our 20+ language teachers have developed these “insights” that we believe help ensure that all of our students can learn. Feel free to try a few!
Send a “Monday Morning Message” (MMM!) - Encourage students to be prepared for the week. This message to your entire class can outline upcoming assignments, remind them of class times or schedule changes, get them excited about new content with an engaging video or article, and share announcements or well wishes. You can also add current or cultural events to enhance their experience in your class. For example, the Chinese Qingming Festival was introduced in Chinese class’ Monday Morning Message. But, a simple email works too!
Host live sessions - Smile and greet your students every day! Find out how they are doing. If your school and schedule allow it, host live sessions in a video conferencing platform so that your students can see and hear you and their classmates in real-time. These sessions are incredibly important for engagement, motivation, and the social process of learning! Watch this video for some short clips of examples of live sessions.
Use student work and pictures - When students see themselves and their interests portrayed by the teacher, they feel seen and, in turn, motivated to learn. Students also look forward to their interests represented during class time through the teacher’s use of images, topics, and activities. This representation helps to engage the student and makes them more vested in the lesson.
Set up regular routines - Learners thrive on knowing what to expect! Routines can provide teachers with times during a lesson to take attendance, message individual students, and check for understanding. Routines can also help to foster better student-teacher relationships; when students know the expectations, they are more likely to meet them. Check out some of our teachers' slides.
Set norms that the students can agree on and relate to - Learning is social! Creating a community that is built together encourages learners to show up. And, when learners show up, they engage with the content and each other to learn. Check out how to think about norms here.
Plan for engagement - We learn when we laugh, smile, and are not stressed. Plan your live sessions with new activities every 5-10 minutes that actively engage your students. You don’t need fancy tools to do this. In fact, you can do many of the same things you did in the brick-and-mortar: Ask students to free write, open up class for discussion, put students in breakout rooms to do pair work, demonstrate a skill, and then have students practice it, etc. But keep them involved, not just listening. Here are some sample slides.
Create asynchronous assignments with all the key content - Plan for change. Since not all students will be able to join you live, create asynchronous assignments that students can access to learn and practice the key content.
Set a weekly deadline on the same day - Routines are key. If things are always due on the same day of the week (say, Fridays), students don’t have to ask, “When is it due?”
Give feedback on every assignment - Students feel supported and encouraged when you respond to their work. When students know exactly what they need to do to get a full grade in your class, it gives them agency and empowers them to take responsibility. We hear this often, “They were very patient with me and getting my assignments. They replied to each of my assignments. That was nice.”
Be flexible - STOP when kids need to talk or check-in. They can find content on the internet. There is nothing like the relationship and trust you build with learners’. While brick-and-mortar schools can provide some regularity for us, we all have our own realities. Don’t assume you know what that looks like for your students. Being flexible helps to teach kids a valuable skill for life-long learning.