Are you one of the many teachers faced with online lessons for the first time? At Wacom we’ve been talking to educators about issues they experience when creating successful virtual classes. 

One of the top problems on the list? Feeling confident about online teaching.  

Does this ring a bell for you? Are you the master of your classroom, but feel completely out of your comfort zone in front of a webcam?  

Here’s how you can boost your confidence when teaching online. 

Get familiar with new technology 

If you weren’t using much technology before, it can feel daunting at first. You might think everyone else is fine, but there are many teachers struggling with exactly the same issues as you.  

Good virtual teaching doesn’t mean having to use every new platform and program you’ve been told about. You can still create great lessons with little previous experience online.  

Introduce new things slowly. Your students will thank you too. Practise before your lesson to build your confidence. Start creating a list of favourite websites and programs to use in your regular teaching sequence.  

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Don’t copy everyone else 

Do you have to use this program or website, or do you feel that way because other staff are using it? 

Every school is likely to have a few trailblazers who love learning about new technology. They’re called ‘early adopters.’ You don’t have to emulate them. Let them take the lead and listen to what they say. You can decide if it’s worth your time trying it yourself. 

Online learning is here to stay. Focus on the essentials your school expects you to use. You can build on this knowledge at your own speed. 

Thoroughly plan lessons 

Online lessons require preparation, just like classroom teaching. If you’re feeling anxious, try creating a detailed lesson plan with a story board, bullet point notes, or partial script. 

However, don’t script the lesson so much that you lose your natural delivery. Having notes does not mean reading out a speech. Organise your plan into headings, bullet points, and key explanations. Use different colours and images to make it easy to follow. 

Choose how to deliver lessons 

Some schools say how they want you to teach, others are leaving the choice to you. There are three principal ways to deliver online lessons: 

  1. Pre-recorded videos 
  1. Live video calls  
  1. Typed lessons 

Let’s see the pros and cons of each approach. 

1: Pre-recorded lessons 

This means recording a video in your own time and sending it out to your students. Programs like Loom have simple introductions to get you started and are easy to navigate. 

Pros

  • Take your time to produce each lesson 
  • Re-record if things go wrong 
  • No pressure to perform in the moment 
  • Edit sections for a smooth lesson 
  • Record a block of lessons in advance 
  • Students can work at their own speed 
  • Use the lessons as a learning resource 

Cons:  

  • Watching and listening to yourself on camera 
  • Easy to concentrate on your mistakes 
  • Can waste time aiming for ‘perfect’ lessons 
  • Takes time to edit, upload, and share the videos 

2: Live lessons 

This involves hosting a class using a platform like Zoom. You send students an access code and they sign in to join your lesson live.  

Pros:  

  • Faster than pre-recorded lessons 
  • Chance to talk to students 
  • Increased engagement 
  • Feels more natural than talking to a camera 
  • Live formative assessment 
  • Record the lessons for absent students 

Cons:  

  • Hard to manage when things go wrong 
  • Many students have limited access to devices 
  • Affected by poor internet connection 
  • Some students struggle to engage  
  • Low-level behaviour can impact 

3: Typed lessons 

Plenty of great lessons don’t use video. Use text and images on a familiar document such as Word or PowerPoint, or type directly onto a platform such as Microsoft Teams

Pros:  

  • Easy to link websites using hyperlinks 
  • Reuse activities and resources 
  • Create templates using programs like Visme or Canva 
  • Students can access in their own time 
  • Doesn’t rely on a good internet connection 
  • Easy to email lessons 
  • Embed voice messages to explain tasks 

Cons:  

  • Can be difficult for formative assessment 
  • You lose student interaction 
  • Struggling learners may need support 
  • Lots of text can put students off 
  • Hard to demonstrate new concepts 

4: Use a combination 

There’s no reason to limit yourself to one method of delivery. Try mixing and matching. This is great if you want to start something new but feel apprehensive. 

Remember, there’s no ‘right way’ to deliver virtual lessons. You can find what works best for you and improve it over time. 

Evaluate the positives of your lessons 

With the benefit of hindsight, every lesson could be better. Instead, focus on the positives from each online class. 

Spend a few minutes considering: 

  • What went well? 
  • Which activities worked best? 
  • Who made progress in the lesson? 

Now think of one thing you’d like to try next time. Make it small and achievable rather than a huge challenge. 

Embrace mindfulness 

Don’t let anxiety about teaching online dominate your home life. Enjoy exercise, get outdoors, and check out our top mindfulness apps for teachers. 

If you’re teaching from home, recreate a commute by making a transition. Going for a short walk, reading, or taking a shower can give you the feeling of finishing for the day. 

If you have problems sleeping or eating, experience panic attacks, or feel very low, it’s time to seek help. Talk to your line manager, visit your doctor, or look for a teacher helpline to call. 

In summary 

Teaching online is new to everyone. Use ‘early adopters’ to train you on the basics you need. 

Plan well and choose the delivery format that suits you best: live, pre-recorded, typed, or a combination of these. Focus on the positives and choose one small target to improve rather than trying to make every lesson perfect. 

Confidence comes over time, with familiarity about what you’re doing. Take it slowly, learn the essentials first and choose when to try other things. Soon teaching online will feel like the usual routine.