Confidence Building Strategies to Help You Teach Online

We often talk about students struggling with virtual learning, but what about teachers? Are you one of the many educators worried about teaching online?

It feels like there’s too much to learn, so different from the classroom teaching you love. There’s the added pressure of the expectation to deliver lessons quickly.

Don’t panic. Whilst there’s plenty you could learn, just mastering the basics will help you get your students learning remotely, without sacrificing all your time to making it happen. Here’s how.

Four basics of online teaching

There’s more to online learning than creating perfect lesson plans, although good planning is important. It takes time to get comfortable using unfamiliar technology and systems.
Stick with the programs you feel familiar with and confident using. There’s an endless array of resources available online. Don’t feel you have to embrace them all.

These are the basic skills you need:

1: Familiarity with the platform your school uses
Every school chooses the platform they prefer, and they all work slightly differently. Explore the one your school is using. Just navigating the site will help you find the features you’ll need.
If your school hasn’t created user guides to get you started, look online for simple blog posts to give you the basics. Start small and create a simple lesson. Don’t aim for perfection each time, every lesson can be an improvement on the last.

2: Learning how to set work
If you’re using a platform like Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams, you need to know how to put the lesson up for students to see. You can upload a Word document or write directly onto the platform itself. There’s no one way to get it right. Find what works best for you.
If your school isn’t using an online platform, you can email students their work or add it to online homework trackers like Satchel One or Class Charts. Whichever way you use, keep it simple to set work and track student submissions.

3: How to run a video call
Some schools want live video call lessons as standard. That means quickly learning how to host a live lesson using a provider like Zoom.
Practise on a colleague first. Try making a video call to check you know where all the main buttons are. Sit in on a lesson run by a confident colleague so you can observe the tools they use. Remember, you don’t have to learn everything they do, just the basics to get you started.

4: Receiving work from students
Most schools expect you to set home learning tasks in between lessons. Students might email work or upload it to a collaborative platform. Find out your school’s expectations and have a practise yourself.
Set a trial task and check students can access it on different devices. Decide how you’ll monitor their submissions. Save time by providing whole class feedback rather than trying to mark every piece of work each time.
Find a trailblazer to follow

So, now you know what you need to learn, how do you do it?
Every school has early adopters of new teaching methods and technology. Find one and make them your trusted friend. They’ll be happy to show you what they’ve learnt.

If you arrange a video call tutorial with a colleague, record it to watch again. It will save you making lots of notes whilst you’re trying to listen.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of staff feeling the same way as you, even if everyone appears far more confident. If you need extra support, reach out to your line manager before you get overwhelmed.
Set SMART targets for your virtual lessons
It’s overwhelming when you look at everything you need to learn about online teaching. Get motivated and choose two or three very small targets to work on at once.

You’re probably familiar with the acronym SMART for target setting. It’s great for making effective plans to help your professional development.
SMART stands for:

– Specific: Avoid vague statements and choose clear goals you need to achieve.

– Measurable: Have a way of gauging your success. How will you know when you’re there?

– Achievable: Think about your skill set and time available. What can you realistically achieve?

– Relevant: Avoid choosing targets that won’t have significant impact. What do you need to master right now? Everything else can wait.

– Time bound: How long should it take you to achieve the target?

Choose goals you can easily accomplish in a short amount of time.
At the end of the week, look at your progress towards your targets. Are there any you’ve finished? Cross them off the list and decide what needs to be your next priority.

Celebrate your online teaching success

You’ve never had so many professional development opportunities in such a short space of time. Keep track of the new things you’ve achieved and celebrate your learning.

Don’t worry if you struggle at first, it will get easier. What seems impossible in your first lesson will soon feel routine. Be kind to yourself and prioritise your mental wellbeing. Make time for self-care, hobbies, and exercise.
In the classroom, everyone has lessons that fall flat. The same will happen online. Sometimes classes just don’t work out the way you planned. Put the lesson in perspective and move on.

In summary

Moving to online teaching is an enormous challenge for teachers. Even if you’ve successfully taught for years, you might feel very behind others who seem confident with virtual learning.

The world of online education is vast. You don’t need to know everything to have a successful lesson. Setting achievable small targets is a way to prioritise, measure, and celebrate your success. Stick to the essentials and leave other things for the future.

Reach out to your colleagues, they’re likely to feel the same way too. Let confident staff show you the basics and ask for help before problems become overwhelming. You’ll soon be running successful lessons online.

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