10 Tips on Successfully Teaching Online Classes for Beginners

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COVID-19 has impacted every area of society in one way or another, with the education industry being hit harder than others. Schools across the world have had to adjust to remote and hybrid learning models in order to curb the spread of the virus.

But if you've never done it before, teaching online can seem like a daunting task. How can you make sure that your students pay attention? What resources can you use to be more effective?

Keep reading to learn about 10 tips for teaching online classes that'll benefit you and your students.

1. Understand That Perfectionism Is Unrealistic 

If you're the type of teacher that needs everything to be orderly and without problems, you're in for a shock. When moving into online teaching, the first thing you need to realize is that glitches and problems come with the territory. 

Today, technology allows us to do a number of remarkable things. It has shrunk the world, and it's now possible to teach a class to someone on the other side of the world. Yet despite these advances, it can still be volatile.

The software you use to teach classes can have issues. The program version you have may be different from that of your students, leading to confusion or incompatibility. Internet problems can also plague the online learning environment, leading some students to pop in and out of class while you're teaching. 

Aside from technical problems, many teachers have never taught online before. This means that they are new to it, and will therefore be learning along with their students. If you fall into this category, be patient, and don't get frustrated when something doesn't work as you planned.

2. Keep Student Access Capabilities in Mind 

Although you might enjoy your speedy home internet package, keep in mind that not all of your students may be as fortunate as you.

Some students may not have access to a device to use the internet. To combat this, some schools are giving their students Chromebooks or other similar devices. Yet if your school is not, try to be accommodating. Understand that your students will be doing what they can. 

Aside from not having a suitable device, a 2018 study revealed that only 61% of children across the US had internet access at home. This means that they may be using a mobile hotspot or public Wi-Fi to access your class, which can be slower than normal household internet. Plan for interruptions and connection problems. 

Students adjusting to at-home learning also need to get used to the new importance that goes along with technological devices. Many may not have strong typing skills and may have lower computer literacy than you would expect. Try and be flexible with deadlines for assignments, and extend them when necessary. 

3. Use Your Usual Teaching Skills

Many teachers transitioning to online teaching feel that it's a completely different process than traditional education. Although there are new factors you'll have to consider, you'll find a place to use all of your old teaching skills as well. 

Like in the classroom, approach every lesson with a clear goal or plan. It can be tempting to see online education as a temporary evil that'll pass soon. However, no one can predict the future, nor what education will look like in a year from now. Make sure your classes are effective and related to your course. 

You should also make sure to facilitate proper communication between yourself, students, and their parents. Online education can feel distant and isolating. Take steps to ensure that your students remember that you're a real person, not a face on the computer screen.

4. Find Ways to Create Dialogue and Discussions 

Have you ever asked your students a question and got a room full of blank faces back as a response? This sort of event is all too common in an online learning environment. To combat it, you'll need to find ways to get students talking.

Being isolated and far apart from one another means that in the right circumstances, you can get your students to look forward to your class as an opportunity to connect with you and their peers.

The method you use to fuel a dialogue should depend on your course, their age, and the platform you use. Consider showing a video at the start of class, or if they're older, talking about current events at the start to get the ball rolling. You want them to feel comfortable and willing to express themselves.

5. Create an Organization System 

If you struggle with organization in a traditional learning environment, you're going to have your work cut out with you when teaching online. Remote learning is messy by definition. You'll need to find ways to keep things together.

Many schools are requiring their teachers to use a system such as Google Classroom or Dropbox. If this is your first time using one of these programs, make sure you spend the time needed to understand the ins and outs that go along with it.

If your school doesn't specify which system they want you to use, you'll have to decide on one yourself. If you don't have the time to learn a massive and complex program, consider creating a Google Doc for your classes. You can have subsections for homework, lectures, and other class materials. 

6. Use the Proper Virtual Learning Resources 

One of the benefits of online classes is that there's no shortage of fantastic online resources to choose from. 

If you're doing live classes and haven't received recommendations from your school, you'll need to decide on a video conferencing software. Zoom is one option that features a free-to-use version. You can share your computer screen, and viewers can annotate as well.

If you're looking for extra things to beef up your lessons, try to incorporate videos and other multimedia content. YouTube can be a great place to find educational videos, but make sure you watch them beforehand to ensure that they're age-appropriate. 

7. Pay Attention to Each Student 

In online education environments, it can be easy for students to blend together, as, at the moment, they're faces on a screen. Remember that each and everyone is a unique individual with different strengths, weaknesses, and interests. 

At the start of class, make an effort to chat with all of your students, even if you ask them how they are. During class, elicit answers from each and every student. Do your best to make them feel like a cog on a machine. They're all important pieces working together. 

Although testing centers have delayed or suspended many tests, you'll also need to make sure that your students are prepared and ready to take them when things reopen. If you're hoping to help your student get into a selective school, this can mean preparing to take a selective test online.

8. Make Sure Students Stay Engaged 

Maintaining student interest throughout online classes can seem challenging, as the internet comes with a number of distractions.

Consider opening and closing your class with a warm-up. It should be related to the material you'll be covering, but it can also be a time to create a comfortable and fun online classroom environment.

You can watch a video as a class, then discuss the content. Using the internet to teach also means that you can pull up search results without a problem. Tell your students a story, then use Google to show images of what you're talking about. It will help students be more engaged in what you're saying.

9. Be Prompt With Giving Feedback

If you find that your students feel unengaged, it may be on account of them feeling mentally removed from your course. One way to try and make them feel closer is by being prompt with feedback.

If a student or parent asks you a question, make an effort to get back to them as soon as possible. If that means returning a phone call, sending an email, or answering a question on a platform, do it.

It's easier for students to feel better connected when they know that you'll resolve their questions and problems quickly and without delay.   

10. Find Time to Reflect 

At the end of the day, everyone is trying to do their best during these turbulent times. Yet things will go awry and you'll feel frustrated. Make an effort to regularly stop and assess how you're doing and where you can improve.

Aside from transitioning to an online learning model, you and your students have also had to do it quickly. This means that you're all learning and that you'll need some time to get into the groove. 

Stop and ask yourself questions. If your students aren't participating or seem distracted, what can you do to try and attract their attention? How can you create a more comfortable and exclusive online classroom environment? How is everyone doing mentally? 

Transitioning Into Teaching Online Classes? Follow These Tips!

In response to global pandemics and quarantines, educators across the world have had to switch to remote education models. If you're about to begin teaching online classes and are wondering how to be successful, following these 10 tips can be a good place to start.

Do you have any other suggestions for teaching online classes? Let us know!

If you found this article helpful, don't forget to check out some of our other blog posts for more guides and tips.


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