All images: Esrawe + Cadena, Mi Casa, Your Casa, 2014 - 2021. Courtesy of Esrawe + Cadena.
by Rosalía Valero and Jonathan Frank
IN THIS COLLABORATION BETWEEN UNIVERSIDAD HUMANITAS, CAPITEL MAGAZINE AND CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, ROSALÍA VALERO AND JONNY FRANK EXPLORE HOW WE CAN KEEP THE CLASSROOM ALIVE WHILE TEACHING REMOTELY, BY ADDING VARIETY AND REDUCING TEACHER TALKING TIME WHILE ENHANCING ENGAGEMENT.
Online teaching continues to feature in education today, but what have we learned so far and what can we learn for the future? Can we maximise student talking time? How do we keep energy levels up?
How do you feel about teaching remotely?
Challenging, frustrating, exciting, new, confusing, free, overwhelming, thrilling, scary, rewarding! These are just some of the words that teachers have been using to describe the online education experience over the course of 2020. But…
- Have you sometimes felt that your online lessons have begun to lose their spark?
- Have lessons begun to feel too monotonous?
Well, you’re probably not alone, as the whole teaching community continues to reimagine and reinvent teaching, learning and assessment online.
How can I keep it simple?
Technology needs to help, not hinder, and reinvention is key to this: just because we’ve moved online, doesn’t mean we have to throw out all the great activities and classroom practices we’ve used before. To keep your energy up, so you can plan efficiently and deliver effective classes, try using a simple base. When thinking digital, be ecological.
Remember the 3 Rs
Reduce. Think learning objectives, not number of activities. If a five-minute activity is taking you an hour to prepare, then it’s probably not worth it.
Re-use. Challenge your lesson preparation: do I need a new activity for this learning outcome, or can I adapt one I already have?
Recycle. Work with teacher communities —either colleagues at your institution or online— and help each other with pedagogical shortcuts to planning.
[…] the whole teaching community continues to reimagine and reinvent teaching, learning and assessment online.
How can I manage interaction effectively?
Online delivery isn’t all about the teacher. Don’t worry, you’re not centre stage; or at least you shouldn’t be. The move to online delivery may make you feel like there’s more emphasis (and eyes) on you, but plan to avoid being a talking head —if you think it’s tiring being the talking head, imagine your students watching and listening to you (and possibly falling asleep)! Let’s consider interaction patterns:
- Student-to-student (pairs)
- Breakout rooms (groups)
- Individual time
- Teacher-student (one-to-one time).
It’s clear that the types of communication we are familiar with can be adapted online, respecting the 3Rs. Naturally, you’ll need to consider providing supporting language, clear instructions, planned timing and have breakout rooms at the ready!
How do I maximise engagement?
If you think your learners and you are the only people influencing your classroom, think again! Even if you can’t see them, there are two key elements worth involving: parents and neurobics.
Parents. If remote teaching is new for many of us, it’s exactly the same for parents and learners; houses have become offices and schools. Plan to engage parents:
- Like you, parents want this to work and be a successful learning experience
- They need and want your help and guidance, such as the importance of taking breaks (yes, during the class!)
- They are there!
Neurobics. You are what you eat, but you are also what you do — and this includes your brain. To keep energy and engagement high when learning and teaching remotely, we must consider:
- Keeping hydrated
- Avoiding ‘chair potato’ fatigue
- Planning snacks conducive to focusing
- Being ‘brain friendly’.
How can online teaching help me grow professionally?
We know that remote teaching is challenging but it also brings huge advantages. Let’s not focus on problems but rather welcome the opportunity to re-imagine how to keep learning exciting, interesting and successful because we and our learners are at home, but not alone.
You can watch the recording from the Cambridge Live Experience here: https://bit.ly/3jv0LBu.
Rosalía Valero is Strategic Development Head Americas at Cambridge Assessment English. She manages education transformation activity in Americas, working with ministries of education and educational institutions and organisations. Rosalía’s expertise lies in English language teaching and training, professional development, and English Language Teaching management.
Jonathan Frank has worked in English language teaching and education for more than 10 years, in a variety of areas: teaching, materials writing, assessment, marketing and recognition. Now, as Senior Business Development and Marketing Manager for Michigan, he enjoys working with American English exams in Mexico and the wider region.