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Online Teaching - Some Tips And Thoughts!

Discussion in 'Education & Personal Growth' started by hrastro, Feb 19, 2021.

  1. hrastro

    hrastro Finest Post Winner

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    I had written that I take online classes in this thread Impact Of Pandemic On Relationships

    And I received a few PMs on
    " How to teach online"
    " How to engage students"
    " handling a class in a real environment"
    " what if something goes wrong"
    " Please suggest tips to make it more interesting"

    So I thought instead of responding in Inbox, I could write a few tips here and collect some more gyaan from the others too!

    Please do contribute with tips on how you handle online classes or how you wish your kids teachers would handle them.

    1) I keep the documents for each class ready, the homework pdf, the class pdf or ppt, the test pdf. One notepad with links that I can copy and paste in chat, the answers to the questions that I am asking... Everything ready so that I concentrate only on the interaction while the class is on.

    2) As a teacher, I login 15 minutes early, see that there are no connection problems with the students or at my end. I get my digital pen etc ready, with the correct documents for the class opened in various windows. Some students like to join early and chat with me, so I like spending that time.

    3) I keep a backup of the documents etc on my phone as well. I am always logged in as a co-host from another device (usually from my phone).
    In case there is a network problem, I switch to the mobile data and use the phone to continue the class (without video) till it is resolved. If you do this, remember to switch off audio in one device or there will be lot of echo.
    It happened only once in my 100+ sessions, but I still follow the procedure because it keeps me and my students anxiety free.

    4) We need to send the documents to the students at least 1 day in advance so that they have time to go through and ask any questions or take printouts.

    5) Start the class with answering questions and discussions with parents and students from the previous day.

    6) Give homework and check them and appreciate the students who did them. Add excitement in your voice while appreciating as our voice only reaches them clearly - they cannot see or feel the vibes!

    7) Allot some time after the class - Many students stay back and talk with us or ask extra questions about life and school and studies. But my offline students also used to stay back and ask me to tell a story, so this is not something different for me.

    8) Since we are not physically present there, to feel connected, they need something – so I send them a worksheet with space created to write the answers, notes, the formula of the trick, the homework etc... everything is in that pdf document – the students can immediately connect using the document as a reference.
    During the class, I share the same document on the screen and I tell them what to write and where to write. So the visual aspect to learning is taken care of – that’s very important.

    9) In school or in a physical setup, the visual part is very easy, we are there. But online, we need more visualization. So I tell a lot of stories in between, related to the concept or the technique I’m teaching. This helps the students pay more attention and retain more information.

    10) I also keep a test before and after the class and tell the parents what exactly they have learnt and how they have improved due to my lessons. Appreciate individual improvement after every test. Don't compare with other students.

    11) Class Size for a regular interactive teaching class - The class needs to be seen by the teacher – so the class size cannot go beyond 10-15. Especially the younger kids aged 8-10, having a max of 8-9 students per class should be the target, so that everyone can be seen by the teacher. With older kids, they would at least ask if they didn't understand, so it is ok to have 15 students.

    12) Class size for an info-sharing webinar - With older kids & parents, we can have any number of participants.
    Some of our one-way sessions had more than 300 students also where the course structure is about giving boxed information with a question/answer session at the end.
    When I made that interactive, I requested the students to respond in chat - and I had another window to read the answers… Remember to call out their names and appreciating them when they give correct answers.

    13) Relate the class with what generally happens in school or in most families. Give several examples

    14) Make things fun for the kids if they are really small. One of my activities is to save a princess - you do about 700 (yeah, seven hundred) sums to save the princes through a complex maze. Most of my 8 year old students complete the activity in 20 minutes. One parent called and told me her daughter was behaving as if she has a halo on her head - because she had completed 700 sums in 20 minutes and I had appreciated that.
    After that particular activity, I usually send a message to the group telling the parents to give a big hug to their kids as they were very quick and are very good at Maths.

    15) Make an excel for each batch, Note attendance for each class, make notes on who did homework, who answered questions etc, so that when parents call, you can respond with facts.

    Some more thoughts reg the marketing of classes:

    1) Conduct demos for the students and parents to understand how well you are able to engage the student, how the class will be structured and any other questions they might have. When a parent or student comes to the demo, I involve the kids, do some magic tricks and games with maths, because I have created fun and exciting ways to study. So the students are happy to join, and it is from their own syllabus, why would the parents hesitate to register.

    2) After every batch, I ask parents and students to give some feedback about how they loved the classes. I share these videos with parents who are interested in the class but not yet registered.

    3) We need to keep the courses flexible. Say, One course of mine is 10 hours. During vacations we had monday to friday – 2 hours everyday and completed a batch in a week. But when schools started, I converted the course to once a week 2 hour classes and finished in 5 weeks. For the international students, I converted it to 1 hour 15 minutes classes twice a week over 2 months - so 8 classes. So keeping our courses modular and being flexible about timings helps.

    Bonus Idea :

    Check out some websites/apps that offer visual interaction so that you can gamify some parts of your class - have quizzes online, send them polls and let them vote the correct answer, merge pics and ideate

    Some apps I can add here, you can add yours too -

    Use Break Rooms in Zoom for teams in class
    Google drive to store files, Google forms for the tests!
    Google Jamboard
    Kahoot it
    Quizizz
    Baamboozle
    Padlet

    There are many more - use any so that your interactions are more engaging.
    But dont bombard with too much technology - for each app, there is a learning curve, so use these apps wisely where appropriate.

    Please share what you do! Or how you would like your kids teachers to engage them?

    I listed a lot of DOs ... Please don't hesitate to add some DONTs also !

    Keep Smiling
    HR
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2021
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  2. Rihana

    Rihana IL Hall of Fame

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    HR, comprehensive compilation. The work teachers do outside of the teaching time is often not visible. I first came to know about this when I used to volunteer in my child's KG classroom. I swear after seeing the hard work and planning that goes into a short 3 hour KG day, I became serious about appreciating teachers throughout the year by email, gifts and writing an end-of-year cc'ing the principal for some teachers.

    Each item in your list is very useful. There are couple of things in the list that would be interesting to talk about. In particular, how these things were few decades ago and how they are now.

    It is important for the students who did the homework to be appreciated. But calling out their names can negatively impact those who usually don't do the homework. In a class, there are students of varying abilities and home backgrounds. The reason for not completing homework could be out of the control of the young student.

    This. Calling out names of some students is an indirect comparison with other students. No?

    Due to eavesdropping outside my child's room door to ensure he/she has woken up in time for class, I noticed a pattern -- child was talking only during some classes. Gentle query revealed that some teachers allot 5% of the overall grade for participation. This seems like a viable alternate to calling out names of only correct answer givers. Some students might not answer correctly but they bring a different perspective to class with their questions and insights.

    Make things fun is good but saving princess is a big no in my book. Reading well-known fairytales and stories about princesses saved by the prince or a knight or soldier are fine but an interactive activity to save a princess - no. Maybe the child can save a cute baby whale from a maze of plastic dumped into the ocean by humans.

    Something about a parent hugging a child specifically as a reward for a good Maths test score or because they child is good or quick at Maths is unsettling. At least in my school district that teacher would get into a lot of trouble from "outraged" parents. It is OK for the teacher to write/tell the parents to give a big hug to their child after events like a shooting in some school or something that upset students in school that day. "Hug your child for being good at Maths" would make some parents ask "may I hug my child who got a 2/10 in the test?"

    This is becoming a long post.. more in next.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2021
  3. Rihana

    Rihana IL Hall of Fame

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    General thinking aloud:
    Which is a "better" way of learning?

    We learned the content of the subjects because we had to, because we wanted to score well in the exams, and for parental approval or due to fear of parents' wrath.

    Now, the emphasis is on making learning "fun" and "appealing" to the young students. Gamification, badges, levels and so on to "engage" the students.

    I see the benefit of this gamification thing but I wonder what happened to learning for the sake of learning?

    This is a general pet peeve of mine -- I wish teachers do not burden the students with their real life family problems. A pet who needs to be put to sleep is something OK to talk about with the class, but divorce, separation or parenting challenges are personal topics not OK for the teacher to discuss at length with students, a brief mention is OK.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2021
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  4. hrastro

    hrastro Finest Post Winner

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    Very interesting perspectives @Rihana

    Will revert on these thoughts leisurely...

    Busy for a couple of days.
     
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  5. hrastro

    hrastro Finest Post Winner

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    Learning for the sake of learning is the right thing to do. But lets be realistic - how many students are able to sustain the interest in the topic.
    Students struggle a lot ... they are tired... they are supposed to study, play, go to extra curricular classes, projects, exams etc...
    Until the system changes it is important for teachers to engage and create interest in the topics...
    I have seen many school teachers leaving their jobs because they are told how to teach students by the management.

    I may be rambling.... but
    Only one out of 10 students may be actually interested in the subject, teacher, exam etc...
    More than interest, I see at least 3-4 out of 10 students who have discipline - they respect the teacher and listen and do the assignments. That credit goes to the parents who have given them the right values.
    The other 5 students need more engagement with games etc.
    But with online teaching, I see even the ones who have interest or discipline, even they feel very lost... so more engagement is required.

    Hahaha very true... I agree 100%...

    One lady I knew was shocked that her daughter used to chop vegetables at her tuition teacher's house!

    But many students want to talk about their personal topics as we are their trusted adults - I tell gently - let's study now, we can talk after class, and ensure that I make time to listen after the class.

    Teens want to talk about parents and communication gaps but younger kids just want to share stories or jokes or even riddles
     
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  6. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan IL Hall of Fame

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    #2&3. @Rihana
    Very useful holistic review for a fantastic perspective of class room vs teacher. I could relate it better since I had short stints in summers in academic school level and also in engineering & management. But then it is no comparison for you & @hrastro are besides teaching syllabus handle the sensitive kids & pupils.

    I am happy for the kids who are under your able coach with your exercising meticulous approach to their sensitivities.
    God Bless you both.
    Regards.
     
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  7. hrastro

    hrastro Finest Post Winner

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    Nothing personal @Rihana, you have just raised these issues as interesting things to talk about !

    I think I may create a IL war here, but I feel we are taking this "negative impact" "equal rights" too far by punishing the "doers"

    I remember one actual white paper a few years ago which studied about the wonderful positive psychological impact on kids whose parents tell them bedtime stories - and ended the study with the statement that it is unfair to kids whose parents dont tell them stories - and hence bedtime stories should be banned. Seriously?

    Nobody said anything about screaming at or torturing the ones who didn't do the homework.

    At least in my limited experience, when students who do the homework are appreciated, more number of students completed the homework... And the others actually (innocently or otherwise) tell the reason they couldnt complete it and promise to try next time.

    Here, it depends on the teacher - how he/she treats the ones who dont do the homework - I always suggest alternatives in a supportive manner or give them ideas on how to create time/ environment....

    The homework is not for the teacher's ego, it is for the student to learn better - if the student is able to apply what he has learnt in class, he will be better prepared for the next class....

    Same with answering in class - if the students who answer are not appreciated, why will they continue? If they are appreciated, the other students will also be inspired to try... Again, here, it depends on the teacher - how does he/she treat the student who gives a wrong answer - I never outright say it is wrong, I usually give hints and clues till the student gets the answer right and then give a similar question immediately so that the entire class learns from the wrong answer also....


    Alloting 5% for participation - Thats a good idea - my classes are not graded classes, so I didnt think of that!

    Yes, when I said "correct answer" in my original post, my mind is thinking maths class - so there is usually only one correct answer... but in other classes, if there are some interesting viewpoints and other answers, we must listen and ask more questions to understand the students viewpoint.

    Hahaha this is actually one of my pet peeves too - saving the princess !! My newer activities are not so cliché ...

    I was just using an activity that I was using 10 years ago due to lack of time but nowadays many of my students (both little boys and little girls) are raising this same objection for this activity ... it is high time I changed it ... Baby whale is a brilliant idea! I am going to search for some dolphin pics too!

    Mmmmm outraging parents for a simple hug? Thank goodness I have not encountered such parents !
    I never say - your kids scored this, so you hug them, I say hug them because they completed an activity - actually all my kids complete the activity! And I put it in the whole group for all the students - just to engage the parents in their kid's journey! It becomes a topic of discussion for them that day...

    :grinning::grinning:Anyway I can also "outrage" - who are we to ration hugs? Why ration hugs? Why only "upset" kids deserve hugs? Dont students who improved his count by even a single sum deserve a hug? Dont students who complete 700 sums in 20 minutes deserve a hug? Dont kids deserve a hug just because and for no reason ? "outrage" over!! :grinning::grinning:

    To some parents who ask "may I hug my child who got a 2/10 in the test?" - I would say a big YES - the student tried !!

    For me, any student performing in any test is in competition with self and no one else...
    For instance, in my speed maths course, a student might do 5 sums or 10 sums or even 20 sums in 5 minutes - if they have improved the number of sums they complete after my course, I am successful, else I am the failure as I was unable to teach speed maths!

    So, as long as they tried and did something, anything in class, they deserve a hug... and even otherwise they do... but as the classes are online, it is difficult to reach out and give a hug, so I tell the parents !

    Keep smiling
    HR
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2021
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  8. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan IL Hall of Fame

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    In true gurukulam of yore, attending to guru & guru’s family command top priority . It can be anything from collection of twigs & firewood and fetching water from nearby river or Brooke. In modern gurukulam it is chopping vegetables, preparing a simple meal or cake.

    In private tuitions it is common in some places where tution is imparted free. The parents of the ward pleased that the child is getting trained in other areas while she or he reluctant to do the same work at home when parent instruct. There is nothing to be shocked about.

    Thanks and Regards.
     
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  9. hrastro

    hrastro Finest Post Winner

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    I understand the olden days structure of the gurukula!
    Had it been like the gurukula, even the parent would have appreciated it... The tutor in this context was charging the student by the hour spent at her house :anguished:
     
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  10. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan IL Hall of Fame

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    OMG. - that must be USA.
     
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