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Tips and Tricks for Online Classes

Ellie Bouttell

COVID-19 has put a huge number of teachers in the strange situation of teaching kids through their phone screens. Though bemoaned by many, online classes aren’t all bad. Read on for Ellie Bouttell’s tips and tricks for managing the virtual classroom.  

Background Noise

Request kids (or parents) to turn off their microphone unless they are being asked a question. If they forget to do so or don’t know how, don’t be afraid to remove them from the classroom. I have been more draconian with my virtual classroom than with my real one, because in the virtual classroom, noise actually prevents any teaching from happening. 

No materials 

There are lots of materials you can still use at home! Flashcards can still be used by flashing them (or pictures of them on a screen) in front of your camera; you can still play games by hiding them or moving them quickly in front of your camera so your kids have to be watching closely to figure out what it is. In some ways, I’ve found it even better to be video calling kids in their own home, because they have all their favourite toys and books around them which I can call on them to show or describe to me.  

It’s not a classroom 

Change your mindset! It’s not a classroom, but how great is that?? That means you can teach using a whole load of other environments! Kids can show you their bedroom, their family, their kitchen, their pets, their drawings or the view from their window. They can describe their favourite pen or what they were doing right before class. It’s not a classroom, but it has its own benefits, and is often a heartwarming insight into students home lives. Use that to your advantage and your online classes will go by much more quickly. 

Kids not paying attention  

A sharp name call or “listening, please” will usually do the trick, but as above, I would advise being more draconian here if a kid really isn’t with you by just removing them from the call. Its the right of every other child who is paying attention to not have their time wasted. 

Bad Internet Connection 

Well, there isn’t much of a solution for this one, and its the biggest downfall of online classes. The most you can do is ensure you have a very secure connection and remind all parents beforehand that they must have one also, or they risk not being able to hear any class content. Be patientspeak loudly and slowly, and maybe allow extra time for oral activities. If someones connection is so poor that its disruptive to the class, again, it is ok to remove people from the call or request parents to do so themselves. Just make sure you make this clear before class. 

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