(Or maybe some new things for Old Teachers)
By Teacher Ashley Wallace
7.) Research… and ask questions! Being new in ANY job can be overwhelming, let alone a job that involves teaching children. At VIPKID we have a lot of great resources that we can go through – our contracts, the Google drive, Skype troubleshooting groups, Youtube videos, we have it all! I find that most of the time when I have a question I can find the answer in my resources. Sometimes I need clarification though, and I’m so lucky that I have a great group of teachers in my troubleshooting group (as I’m sure you do too!). Last but not least, there is always Facebook to drop a question or struggle (and of course, email Education!).
6.) Time travel… Wait, what? Ashley, the California sun is getting to you! No really, time travel. Travel back in time to when life was carefree and everything was silly. When we could giggle at anything! I went from being a nanny and teaching high school, to teaching adults in a corporate setting and now, ESL with young Chinese students! Everyone likes to have fun, and it’s needed even more so in an online setting where we communicate via a screen. I’m super silly, embarrassingly silly, but they LOVE it. When they laugh something happens (just don’t laugh too hard and fall off your chair like I did that one time…)!
5.) Bring on the animals. Whether it’s a stuffed puppet, or one of my (ahem, three) cats that like to come and say hello, they are your best friend! My dog Sarah often makes an appearance too – usually staring at the children and looking terrified. Mr. Monkey has saved me many times from tears that had already begun or were just on the brink of happening.
Thanks Mr. Monkey, I owe you a banana.
I also have some finger puppet animals that will randomly pop in and out of the screen, grabs their attention quick and leaves the student wondering what may have just happened.
4.) Take breaks and breath. Teaching a few back to back classes? No sweat, just make sure you are taking a breather. Feedback is important, being on time is important and so is taking a bathroom break! I try to prepare a head of time what I will do with my precious 4-5 minutes or 30 min break I have given myself in between long stretches of teaching. Water bottle? Check. Hot tea? Check. Some sort of snack? Check. List of 30 second yoga stretches or cardio I can do? Check. Do I actually do them? I’ll get back to you.
3.) Sharing ideas with your fellow peers. I talked about asking questions above, but this one is specific for teaching ideas. We have all gone to school for this, have teaching in our pasts – we know the methodologies and teaching strategies and Bloom’s Taxonomy and have our war stories. One of my favorite parts of getting my Master’s? All the new ideas (everything else was pretty boring)! I love sharing my ideas on Facebook and try and seek out new ideas to keep things fresh. Doing a lot of the same trial class? Gets old really fast. Same Phonics lesson over and over? Yup. I’m the first one to admit I struggle with boredom, just like our students! So bring out those ideas, and if you need ‘em, ask!
2.) Prep like it’s nobody’s business. I have found that no matter if I am teaching two classes or 10 classes in one night, prepping makes my world so much easier. I prep my reward slide ahead of time, check which good bye song I will be doing, check the previous teacher comments (is this one of my newer kids, do they have an American name they go by, what are they struggling with?) and get my feedback ready to go at the beginning of class so I can take notes while I am teaching! Prepping is also helpful when I’m supposed to be teaching something but I just don’t get it. I can screenshot and share in my troubleshooting group. Those awesome people make my brain work when it doesn’t want to! Because of my prep, I can literally sit back in between classes, erase my whiteboard, pull out the next reward and do that yoga stretch. Maybe.
When to prep? Ever had a cancelled class before? I will use that time to start prepping for the next day. Maybe you need the break, and that’s cool! But I find that since I’m already getting paid, I might as well utilize the time to prep for the next day. Gives me back more time in the end!
1.) Singing in the rain. Or into a snow globe, or about the letter G or even the circle song. “Circle A, Ciiiircle A, Circle AAAAAAAA!” You don’t have to be a good singer to involve music in the classroom. I have a shaker egg (those ones we all used in grade school, plastic egg with sand inside!), use my voice, use funny noises (you can download apps to your phone!) and even beat box. Anyone can do it, everyone with me now: Boots and Cats and Boots and Cats and Boots and Cats and Boots and Cats…
Go get ‘em, tiger.