- Keep it simple. Teach only one thing in one session. Do not have more than one or two learning objectives per lesson/session plan.
- Talk less, listen more. Keep it conversational. Not preachy.
Keep sessions short. There is no need for long lectures for learning.
Do less to achieve more. Ten minute sessions give or take 5, that’s enough. Less is more. For now. Lecture sessions, when focused and specific, can cater to a larger number of students, reducing the need for sections, or different teachers to repeat this work.
- Keep separate sessions for discussions. Have discussions in smaller groups. If you have more teachers available, share this work.
Online peer learning, online collaborative activities, online class discussions, quiet reading rooms, homework and prep quiet rooms – all of these can be done with supervision. Enable these spaces. And share the work out between teachers. You’ll find new talent in the teacher group for different types of facilitation and student growth. Value and nurture these talents. This is the new normal, these are the new roles.
- Do not, I pray you, do not try to replicate the classroom in online space.
- Watch successful youtubers for your student age group to pick up tone and pace. They’ve worked out what works. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Use their hooks wisely.
- Do not try the old command and control tools to discipline your online group. All discipline here is self driven, and you, as a teacher can trigger it, not impose it. Watch and learn to figure out the triggers. Use the right ones, stay away from the dangerous ones. Yup, online version of know your class. This time the triggers are different, not the ones that worked in the physical class.
- Use humour. Use your knowledge of your students. Make growth personal. You’ve done this in the classroom, you need to do more of it now. Students are used to thinking of this medium as entertainment space. Their responses are already groomed. You are the interloper – and will have to train them into different responses. For a while, play along. Every teacher knows that their job is to be the pied piper – and make students follow the curriculum. If not that, then at least for the sake of personal growth, for exploring new ways of learning, for keeping them together, the teacher may need to be an entertainer for a while. Till they learn to engage deeper and stronger on things that matter, and learn that the internet is more than they knew of it. We, the teacher, will prevail and help them find better.
Try this once: pretend that you’ve met your class in a social space, and are having a good conversation with them. This is easier for teachers in the ‘west’ than for teachers in Asia, Africa etc. Reflect on how you’d handle that – and you’ll find yourself in a more comfortable place.
- Don’t let the students see your fears, but it’s okay to share ignorance in order to create co-learning journeys. You may not know every app, and every feature, but you can learn, just as they did. “Can you hear me?” is not a trigger for a co-learning journey. “Let’s get this going together” just might work better. “Let’s get this done” is possibly even a step to shared purpose. Figure out what works for your group. But do not be the one pulling them along. That’s too much for one human. This has to be about getting it done together, about shared purpose. (It’s not easy, it’s incredibly difficult. You know what’s toughest? Doing this consistently, continually, day after day)
- When you lose control of the session – abort and regroup. Unless you regain control of the session within 30 seconds, close the session and restart in ten minutes, or the next session. You are a good teacher, you would already have established ground rules. Include regrouping rules for technical failure. These will happen, they will lead to chaos, and you will survive it and move on. Everyone falls off a horse, the ones who get back on and stay on, survive. Make sure your students know what to do when you are getting back. Keep them busy, you know this carousel.
- Role model what you want to see. If you want them to listen, demonstrate how its done. If you want your class to be animated, role model that. If you want your session to be reflective, slow down your pace and deepen your voice. If you want your class to be respectful, respect them consistently. As with every class, you do it ten times, you’ll see a response once. We dealt with it in physical classes, we will work it online too