There are around 30 crore students across the country who would generally wake up and get ready for the school. With the Coronavirus pandemic taking control of the daily life routine of all the citizens of India, these school going children are now bound to stay home and open their electronic devices to join the online classrooms which is here to stay for some time now until the situation becomes normal like before. Similarly, the teachers who would usually be prepared with their lesson plans and hands-on-activities for the classes have no classrooms to attend but like every day, they remain committed and are trying to do the best they can in the virtual classrooms.
Although this is not very common and natural to them and for most of the teachers it is a completely new experience. Teaching online is not like teaching in the school classroom and therefore it requires a different approach and some preparation to deliver the subject knowledge effectively and engage the students when your watchful eyes are not on them.
Here are few tips that will help the teachers to increase the engagement of students and deliver the subject materials more effectively:
1. Keep the eye contact with the students by looking at the camera
Look directly into the camera lens rather than the screen of your desktop or laptop while delivering the subject topics. This will make the students feel that you are looking them in the eye and will minimize the feeling of the student that they are not watched.
Also check your screen presence beforehand that your face is completely visible to the students and make sure that camera is not at an angle that is too high or too low. Check that the light source is not behind you that can make your presence dim.
2. Plan your class in advance and communicate the syllabus of the class to the students
Your students are not physically in front of you and most probably they may not be online or in front of their screens all the time. Therefore planning the class is very important and the class content or materials should be announced at the start of the class. This will make sure that the students do not skip the important class sessions. Also, try to avoid any sudden quizzes or tests. Rather let the students be mentally ready if they have to take any test or quiz.
3. Don’t just keep talking; Make it a group effort
First of all, tell your students which page are you delivering and then do not keep reading full page texts to them or giving those monologues. Ask students to share their thoughts or questions through ‘chat’ section or raise their hands through the learning platform. Also you can share informative graphics or real objects to illustrate vocabulary on the screen so that student do not feel it hard to understand the topic and give up.
Make small groups of students and tell them to solve a problem collectively by using group interactions.
4. Divide the class in small sessions
Online classes can be exhausting not only for the teacher but also for the students. Try to separate a 50 minute class in two 25 minute sessions with a small 2-3 minute gap in between. It will help students refresh themselves for the next lessons that you are going to deliver.
5. Use gestures and expressions while delivering the topic
It is no secret that body language is a critical part to engage your audience. The same is true for online classrooms too. A simple smile can convey that you are enjoying your students’ company, but don’t keep smiling consistently or forcibly or it may give a wrong impression. Similarly, you can keep the eye contact with a student to let him/her know that you are listening sincerely. You can use your hands to promote them to speak more on the topic or clap to applaud their effort.
While speaking, try to be expressive and lively. Research shows that listeners pay more attention when the speaker’s volume and tone keeps changing.
6. Minimize any background distractions
While you might be delivering the lesson, some of the students who may not find the topic much interesting will start reading the titles of the books that you would have placed in the background on the shelves. So it is advisable to keep the background clutter free and use a blank background. Also try to make sure that the class environment is not distracted by a running TV, outdoor noise etc. It may distract the students.
7. Take student questions as quickly as possible
Most of the students who get a doubt in between are stuck in the thoughts of that question rather than following the lecture or lesson that is continuing. So try to keep a pop up for any questions that are being put up in the ‘Chat’ section or if any student is raising his/her hand to ask a doubt. While clearing the doubt, you may also recheck with other students whether they are still following the lesson or not.
8. Be familiar with the technology that you are using and be prepared to troubleshoot
It is of utmost importance that you get familiar with the Learning Management System (LMS) or any other tool that you are going to use to take your online classes. Learn how to adjust the settings of the platform. In case you are going to demonstrate the class lesson with use of an external website or videos, keep them open, maybe in another window. It is great to use different available resources to explain the concepts, but be familiar with them in prior.
Also if you have some technical difficulties, be prepared to troubleshoot. For example, if a student is not able to hear you, ask him/her to check the sound or microphone settings of his/her device. Keep your calm.
9. Record your videos too
Record the classroom videos and share it with the students who might would have missed the class due to poor internet connection or ill health or any unavoidable reason. Also share the notes or slides to the students while assigning them some tasks for the next class.
Use all possible ways of communication to reach out to your students, be it email or Whatsapp group etc. Try to encourage healthy study discussions in such groups.
10. Find time for feedbacks and reflect
While you are taking the classes, you may try to deliver your best but there are few things that you can improve on with the help of feedbacks from students or their parents. Try to take the feedbacks in positive manner and reflect on the changes that may improve this skill of yours. You can also go through the recordings of your classes and suggest yourself some valuable points that can make you a great online teacher whom the students would love to see on screen.
Do not forget to like this article and share with your friends and colleagues who could also benefit from it and let us know what other ways you think of to get better at online teaching. To learn more about informative topics, you may visit our youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnGdGb-DWnXf31npNbsJNnA. If you are a teacher and looking for opportunities in the education sector, you may please register as a candidate at www.acadshr.com. Being one of the top consultant in the education sector, working exclusively with academies and education corporates, we would be able to help you with relevant job opportunities.