After teaching online for a few months, I spent some time reflecting on the old adage, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Online teaching at first glance would seem 100% different from traditional classroom teaching, but I have discovered many things are actually the same.
By Carolyn Crann Arnold
- Be Prepared: Whether you are a classroom teacher or a VIPKID teacher, proper prep work is still a cornerstone of teaching. Having props, flashcards, letters, white board, chalkboard (my favorite old school tool) and paper close at hand will help to ensure a teaching rich environment. Be sure to schedule time to prep for your classes! You and your students will be happy you did.
- Professional Pride: When I began teaching for VIPKid a friend asked me, “So, you get up at 4 am- do you care what you look like?” Ummm, YES! I am representing a profession that I am proud to be a part of and personal appearance is a huge aspect of that. I wouldn’t attend a school looking less than my best, so why would that change with online teaching? (P.S: No one can see your slippers, unless you are teaching the body lesson and then showing your foot is encouraged.)
- Reports: Reports are an important part of online teaching, same as traditional classroom teaching. Taking the time to send meaningful, positive feedback is vital in both environments and teachers in both arenas reflect, discuss with colleagues and stress about what to tell parents about the student’s behavior and progress.
- Time Management: There are interruptions in both environments that steal precious time in class with your students. In the traditional school, there are assemblies, snow days, late buses; online time stealers are: poor internet connections, audio or video issues and even student bathroom breaks. These are issues that you do not have control over. Be sure you do have control over classroom pacing.
- Discipline Issues: These are probably rarer online than in the traditional classroom, but you still have to be prepared to deal with inattention, sleepiness, distraction and daydreaming. My best advice is to be humorous, laugh and enjoy the moment. More often than not, your online student will come around, laughter and joy are infectious. One student recently did NOT want to put down his air dart toy, so we made it a part of the class. He could ‘shoot’ one of my stuffed animals after completing three slides or activities. It turned into one of the funniest classes I have taught with VIPKID.
- Full Moon Syndrome: It is real. It does exist. It does affect online teachers and students. BE prepared.
- Potty Breaks: All teachers, traditional and online, have bladders of steel or bladders that respond to bells and timers more consistently than Pavlov’s dog.
- Enrichment: Teachers teach for the lightbulb moment or the moment when the student takes the lesson and runs with the concept. These are the moments we love.
- Rewards: Finding meaningful rewards that provide intrinsic motivation is sometimes tough. Timing the reward, to provide legitimate feedback for a job well done, is a struggle all teachers face. VIPKID has really helped their teachers with the built in ‘Star’ reward system. Our VIPKID students LOVE to receive their five stars and are seriously upset when they do not receive them.
- Collaboration: Teachers everywhere bounce ideas off one another and so do VIPKid teachers. We SKYPE, use social media and private messages to discuss classes, PPTs, kids we have taught and share war stories. VIPKid teachers are supportive of one another, from Nova Scotia to California to Thailand, we are there for one another. It is a growing community filled with amazingly generous teachers. I am happy and proud to be a small part of this innovative company, VIPKID.
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