At Wacom we’re committed to supporting teachers as you move to online lessons. Teaching live online can be particularly daunting. There’s so much to learn. Being well prepared is one way to help you feel more relaxed about the lesson ahead.
So, what can you do before your lesson begins? We share eight easy ideas to help you feel ready for anything you’ll face whilst teaching on a video call.
1: Test websites you’ll use
If you’re trying out a new website or application, check it works before your lesson begins. Make sure it isn’t blocked by online safety filters. There are plenty of excellent websites designed especially for education.
Have frequently used websites open in tabs and sign into your accounts. This stops everyone waiting whilst you remember passwords. Ensure students have their log in details ready to minimise delay whilst teaching.
2: Check your video and microphone
Before your first live lesson, try video calling a colleague to test everything’s working correctly. Platforms like Microsoft Teams let you do test calls. This is useful for a quick check before every lesson.
Try recording a demo video and playing it back to yourself. Ignore the embarrassment of seeing yourself on the screen. You’ll soon get used to hearing your own voice.
Look for problems such as:
- Sound quality: Is your voice clear and loud enough?
- Lighting: Avoid sitting in front of a door or window. Try putting a lamp in front of your computer to brighten your face.
- Background clutter: Consider blurring your background or moving personal items out of shot.
- Your positioning: Check your face shows on the webcam. Improve the angle by propping your laptop on a pile of sturdy books.
- Background noise: Turn off the radio and TV. Listen for busy road noise and shut windows if needed.
- Video quality: If you hold something up to the camera, will students be able to see it?
A quick check of your video and microphone before each lesson is worth the time spent. Technology can be fickle. Don’t assume because everything worked last time, you’ll have no problems in the future.
3: Become familiar with the platform
Learning to use video call features will make you feel prepared. It reduces low level behaviour problems caused when students see you struggling. Every platform is different and produce their own user guides to get you started.
Find out how to:
- Let students into the lesson
- Record the class
- Press the ‘hands up’ button
- Locate and use the chat bar
- Share your screen
- Turn your video on and off
- Mute your microphone
Many teachers write directly on the computer using a pen tablet and on-screen whiteboard. Check out which Wacom product might be the best fit for you. This is a great way to record ideas, draw, and annotate your presentations. Practise before your live lesson to get used to using it.
4: Prepare your resources
Look through your lesson plan and collect everything you’ll need before you start. It sounds simple, but there’s no quicker way to lose control than dashing off to find something, leaving your students waiting.
Keep commonly used stationery close to hand to prevent a pen running out just when you need it, or better still use a pen tablet to capture writing electronically.
In the classroom, you can get away with doing minor tasks, like cutting out a template, whilst talking. Online this is harder, particularly if your camera is off. It’s difficult to keep your students focused. Prepare your resources as much as possible beforehand.
5: Send essential information to students
Your class may feel worried about accessing live lessons. Help them be as prepared as possible.
Remind them of:
- Websites they’ll use
- How to access the platform
- Resources needed
- Log in details/ passwords
- Quick summary of the lesson
- Revision or homework tasks due in
Share all the information they’ll need at least a day before the lesson. You could create a how-to guide or record an introductory video to help them understand what they need to do.
6: Have a back-up plan
Despite your best efforts, things can and will go wrong with online lessons. Think about the worst problems you could have and prepare for what you’ll do if they happen.
Live lessons go wrong when students struggle with the learning or complete tasks quickly. Have scaffolded supports prepared and a few extension tasks ready in case you need them.
Some students can’t join you live. This could be because of internet connection or lack of access to technology. Recording every lesson to send home is a straightforward way to help these students catch up with the rest.
7: Get yourself ready
In the rush of organising your live lesson, don’t forget to prepare yourself. Go to the bathroom before you start and have a glass of water close by. Keep a box of tissues to hand for coughs and sneezes.
Make sure your environment feels comfortable to work in. Add a cushion to your chair and clear clutter away. Open a window for fresh air. Eat regularly and find time for exercise, especially now you’re sat in front of a computer all day.
8: Prepare for distractions
You don’t want someone knocking on the door whilst you’re teaching. Share your timetable with friends or family who could drop by unexpectedly.
Put a note on your door asking delivery drivers to leave parcels with a trusted neighbour. Turn your phone onto silent and sign out of any programs with pop-up notifications.
If you have young children at home, provide them with plenty of snacks and entertainment to keep them busy. You can’t expect them to sit quietly on their own for long periods of time. Instead, plan for them to pop in and out of your lessons and look for ways to minimise their disruption.
Great live lessons are well-planned and thought out. This is not the time to teach off the cuff. You could plan your lessons with a storyboard, partial script, or bullet point notes to help you create an effective teaching sequence.
And that’s it! You’re all set to have a fantastic live lesson. Before long you’ll find preparing for teaching online a familiar routine rather than a stressful hassle.