Positives to Challenging Times
While each one of us has been finding the recent changes and approaches to planning and designing our virtual classrooms challenging, I do believe there are some positives in these extraordinary times as well.
The greatest blessing of online teaching is the absolute saving of paper in the form of worksheets, handouts, notebooks and other documents where paper was being used for any and every activity. Teachers seem to have become more organised in terms of their lesson delivery and the approach to teaching-learning has become more focus-oriented.
It’s my third week with online teaching and here is my experience and some tips for all the teachers who are really working hard to give their students nothing but the best. The usual elements of conducting a class are still relevant – using a virtual whiteboard to show our board work, uploading PPTs and video clips, sharing YouTube links and triggering critical thinking culture with inquiry based learning in its place.
Tips for planning your online lessons
Planning: I would suggest that as teachers our lessons need to be extremely well planned as per the scheduled time duration for the day. Practise with your fellow teachers once before going live. That will give you confidence.
Using the right technology: It is also advisable that assignment worksheets should be uploaded in the Word file so that the process thereafter does not become cumbersome for either the teachers or the learners. Some school apps support both Word and PDF format. One may consider the possibilities that best work for them and their cohorts. If you are working on Zoom interface, the recent safety and security guidelines issued should be borne in mind before, during and after the meeting. After all, to be alert and safe from hackers and unwanted cyber criminals is the need of the hour too.
Avoiding Technical Glitches: To counter the internet traffic born out of massive and wide-scale usage of the Internet everywhere, one may choose to turn off the camera to support the bandwidth. This will help in clarity of approach and do away with unnecessary technical glitches.
Assessments: Teachers should also be mindful about evaluating and checking the assignments or tasks that are given to the learners. Hence, a word of caution to be exercised. With a plethora of some unimaginable digital resources being made available suddenly, teachers should be wise to tweak them as per their grade and curriculum requirements and effectively plan their Formative and Summative Assessments.
Ideally, most of our assignments may be labelled as Formative assessments now, but in case where a teacher wishes to evaluate the learners for Summative assessments, the task should be designed and administered in such a way that the learners get sufficient time to complete and upload their assignments. All assignments submitted by learners must be evaluated, marked and graded with proper feedback given to each learner.
Keep it Interactive: Set tasks in such a manner that you encourage active participation from all learners after every one or two minutes. You can initiate discussions in the chat box or may ask learners to unmute themselves and share their thoughts and responses. However, some basic essential agreements should be outlined at the beginning of each lesson. Cross-talking, speaking without their turn and unnecessary distraction in any form should be done away with. Apart from that, this is also a fantastic opportunity to teach our learners to be mindful of time and discipline and to understand the importance of working in a moment of crisis. This will eventually prepare them for life ahead.
Realistic timelines: Set tasks which can be solved conveniently by the learners and allow them sufficient time to study and do the work efficiently. Do not burden learners with a lot of tasks because as educators we would want to be mindful of the sudden increase in the screen time for each one of us. Let us also remember that the learners might receive assignments from many subjects, hence, to make things easier and assure quality work submission, it is best to give at least a gap of three to four days for the submission deadline.
This is my third week with online learning at my school and I must say, my learners and I are thoroughly enjoying each and every session.While we are adapting to the changes and tweaking our approach it is important that schools also support teachers in this journey. I am really blessed to be a part of a work culture where we are ready to help each other out no matter what.
What Schools Need to do?
School managements should also be empathetic to realise that this sudden spurt in screen time might need to be addressed ably and methodically.
Schools need to maintain discipline and regularly monitor that during the specific hours allotted to the learners for their academic engagement each day they keep wearing their school uniform and don’t give in to other activities like eating, munching, chewing or sipping coffee, milk or tea in between.Discipline should be of prime importance. Learners are studying and attending classes from home but they are under school working hours following a standard timetable set for them. At no given point of time should the idea of it being a casual day or a vacation dawn on either the learners or the teachers or the parents.
Having a guideline for parents and learners enforced by school will help maintain discipline.
This phase, having said everything, is a learning phase indeed. It is actually teaching each one of us countless things every single day. Personally, I have become more confident using tech-integration as a powerful medium of instruction today. I know, tomorrow, in the face of any further unprecedented challenge, things will be managed and taken care of.
One very important thing that online schooling is teaching us is that life doesn’t stop no matter what. One must never admit defeat to any kind of adversities. One must keep going against all odds because one’s hidden potentials and talents are often discovered and brought to fore in the most extraordinarily strange times as this current situation we are all reeling under.
Read other articles with tips on Remote Learning here
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