Teaching strategies have evolved since traditional classrooms have shifted to a virtual learning mode. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a global shutdown, and all educational institutes moved to online classes. Despite getting back to classrooms, technology has now become a part of everyday classroom functions.
With changes in the instruction medium, paradigms of teaching strategies have been redefined to ensure students’ learning needs are fulfilled, and there’s no fallback in students’ learning with hybrid or online instruction. With this new model of education where online and offline education comes together, new challenges have surfaced for educators.
We’ve compiled a list of strategies and tips teachers can implement in their virtual classrooms.
Establish your presence right away
You run the online learning community where your students look up to you. You must establish your presence in the virtual classroom as you would in traditional classrooms. As soon as you connect with the students online, ensure that you capture the classroom’s attention. You can do this with a small activity at the beginning of the class. Consider sharing the agenda for the day, what activities are going to happen in the class, what you’re going to discuss, or inform students what the course or class is about and what they will learn.
Clear communication is the key to understanding students’ needs and seeking feedback. However, building a healthy relationship with students is the road to clear communication. Students must feel that the classroom is a safe space to share anything they feel like, especially in elementary education. Older students must feel comfortable reaching out to their educators if they need help. Transitioning to an online setting shouldn’t hamper your communication with students. Neither the distractions on students’ end should be a reason for ineffective communication. Hence, it would help if you communicated in a way that commands attention. A few practices that can help you build an effective communication system are fixing weekly slots for students to share their problems, opening the classroom to free-form discussions once in a while, and ensuring that the students can reach out to you at your fixed available time.
Have instructional strategies in place
An efficient virtual classroom has all the right tools in place. A virtual teaching-learning environment requires students and teachers to be well-equipped with supporting tools. You may have your educational material in PDFs or eBooks; however, a range of tools for sharing, accessing, collaborating, taking notes and many other functions require web tools in place. For instance, for all your video conferencing needs, you may be familiar with Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Skype or more. These tools will serve as the primary channels for conducting your classes.
School educators might know various or any particular LMS. Platforms like Blackboard and Google Classroom simplify the teaching-learning process on LMS by making it easier for teachers to track progress, assign homework, and provide feedback to their students without switching between various platforms.
Note Taking Tools are crucial for both students and educators. Students require these to make notes of what they learned in class, and teachers need them to track the progress of lessons.
At last, project management tools are essential to schedule classes, organize class time, lesson plans and more. Think of your classes as projects, and your project management tool can take care of all the included elements.
Make sure your students have all the learning resources
Since students are learning from home, they’ll all have different online environments and varied equipment. You may not have control over these elements, but you can share uniform learning materials and specific resources to align their learning. When sharing learning material, ensure they are compatible with mobile and desktop devices. Similarly, you must keep a check that students can access all the material over Windows, macOS, and Linux systems. This will automatically cut down the technical issues you may face during online classes.
Finally, it’s your responsibility to help students understand the tools you use during online classes if they face issues. Make sure students are well-versed with the online tools you use in your classroom. It would be best to do an online tool orientation class where you guide all students on using the chosen tools and platforms.
Be engaging from a distance
Engagement is the most important essence of an effective classroom. You must keep students engaged in classroom activities, offline or online. Students have different learning needs, so you may want to try different teaching strategies in your online classes and figure out what works best for your students. Make your classroom a fun place to learn and watch your students engage, interact and participate in classroom activities.
Consider using different game-like activities that complement your lesson when working with younger students. This will keep the kids engaged. It would be best to find ways to make your lessons exciting and bring creative bend to your online classes through hands-on learning or project-based learning for older students. Online debates, group discussions, and flipped learning are great ways to engage more senior students.
When online classes become hour-long lectures, students are likely to lose focus or get bored. Therefore, consider splitting lessons into parts and having activities around each part.
Also Read: Teaching Strategies for Remote Classrooms
Bring a physical classroom into the virtual sphere
It is easier for students to zone out in virtual classes and be distracted by non-classroom-related activities. Students may find it tougher to engage in the online classroom. Hence, bringing a physical attribute to your online classroom would be beneficial. Including physical classroom activities in your virtual classroom is a great way to keep students engaged. Reciting lessons, reading activities, debates, online discussions, polls, and quizzes are a few ways to start.
Provide learning flexibility
Educators conducting online courses can provide learning flexibility to students by sharing recorded lectures to those who cannot join classes live every time. This is one of the most significant benefits of virtual learning. With tools and technology in place, you may provide students the learning flexibility to access lectures whenever they want. This allows absent students to catch up and allows active students who engage in classroom activities to have access to lectures and notes afterwards.
Make constructive feedback a part of the classroom routine
Virtual classrooms may make students feel that you are out of reach for them or less accessible than how it is in conventional classrooms. To some extent, this is true as students can no longer reach you anytime (as both you and the students are not in school) to discuss a problem or seek feedback. This makes giving regular feedback to students even more important. Please share your feedback on students’ performance and seek input from students on what more they expect in their virtual classrooms.
Virtual classrooms are here to stay. Adapting to a virtual learning-teaching environment will benefit teachers and students in the long run. Above mentioned tips and strategies can help educators upgrade their online classes by adding interactivity and engagement.