With more and more distancing measures put in place by governments all around the world, Covid-19 is inviting us all to rethink our professional practice and provide safe solutions to ourselves and our students. In times like these, the What is ELT? team believe it is important to keep a level-headed attitude while taking the necessary and responsible precautions to keep safe and protect people who are at most risk. We are learning to deal with the situation ourselves and decided to share some teaching tips to navigate this scenario. Feel free to comment, give suggestions and share your ideas.
1. Don’t expect to become an expert online tutor all of a sudden.
Teaching online and going virtual is a skill that takes time to develop, and it is important to take some time to decide which platform to use and what approaches are the most effective for your context. This requires taking into account the type of lesson you teach (e.g. do you teach General English? Exam preparation classes?), the profile of your students (adults, young learners, older students) and how your lessons are organised (one-to-one, small groups, large groups). We understand teachers and schools need to act fast, but jumping into the first available solution might not be sustainable in the long term.
2. Don’t assume it’ll be easy for all learners to go online.
Because the situation is very unexpected, we sometimes forget that transitioning from face-to-face to remote instruction might not be that simple for some learners. In times where people might already be feeling anxious, it is vital to think of solutions that promote inclusivity, not more isolation. For this reason, remember to consider the following points:
Do all my students have easy and quick access to a computer and Internet? If not, what can I do to ensure they are included in the remote instruction mode that I’m proposing?
How used are my students to doing work remotely? Have they ever had to do work online? Are they tech-savvy enough to download and instal softwares, create logins and manage the online environment on their own? How much support do they need for this?
Apart from technical support, what type of reassurance can I offer? Would it help to take some time and rethink the course timetable with my students? Can we renegotiate goals?
3. Synchronous or asynchronous?
Before choosing a platform, decide which mode of instruction is more effective for you and your learners: is it best to adopt a synchronous or an asynchronous mode? Depending on your students’ ease of access to computer and Internet, adopting an asynchronous mode (that means, students do not have to be online and participate in a remote session at the same time) might be more inclusive than expecting all learners to tune in at the same time to attend an online session.
4. Choose an online platform that is suitable for your needs.
Think about costs (for you, your students, the institution you work for), ease of access, user-friendliness, popularity (are my students likely to have used the platform before? Is it too obscure?). Some popular options are:
For a richer learning experience, synchronous and asynchronous platforms can be integrated and used in combination. In the coming days, we’ll be releasing tips on how to use these platforms effectively and help your students make the most out of them.
5. Don’t go Corona-crazy.
While we believe we need to keep informed and follow the instructions given by the responsible authorities, we also think that the ubiquitous conoravirus talk might affect people’s mental health negatively. It is important to keep a positive attitude and be responsible. Teachers have a vital role in not spreading panic - ensure you use the opportunities you have to be reassuring and comforting.
We hope this post helps you and gives you some ideas on how to deal with this unusual scenario. Feel free share your thoughts and contribute your suggestions in the comment section below.
Andreia Zakime is a teacher and teacher trainer based in Barcelona. She is a Cambridge CELTA tutor and one of the co-founders of What is ELT?