Be a pro at virtual teaching: Easy strategies and tips

• February 22, 2021
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he world has witnessed a swift transition to virtual teaching and learning. Today millions of students have embraced the potential of virtual pedagogy and teachers have adapted to new instructional strategies.

There are conceptual similarities between virtual and traditional classroom environments. Both require teacher and student bonding, frequent interaction, timely feedback, and extra support for students when required.

Yet, an online environment calls for a diverse style and different approach to meet the challenges. You need some research, practice, and willingness to master the art of virtual teaching. Here are eight tips on how to prepare for teaching virtually.

1. Plan your classes

A well-thought-out strategy lies behind any successful execution. Great strategy requires meticulous thought and planning. Begin by strategising on the content and flow of your class. 

For your remote students, keep a planned syllabus and study material ready well in advance. This will allow students to foresee and browse through the deadlines, resources, homework, projects, and other requirements so that they are prepared. 

2. Be tech-savvy

When a feature-rich technology platform is selected, the teacher should be savvy about using all its features effectively. Teaching online requires that technical finesse, as you don’t have someone to assist you at all times. 

First, you need a laptop or computer, a hi-speed internet connection, and the best platform to meet your needs. With wide options available, check for adaptability, features, ease-of-use and high-quality audio and video, before making the final choice. 

Take demos and make enough dry runs so you are totally comfortable with the technology. Explore all the available features to leverage them and create an effective classroom environment.

3. Be self-disciplined and enthusiastic

While working remotely, follow self-management skills, sticking to the schedules, timelines, dress code, etc. Set up a workspace, away from noise and distractions, a bright place with natural light, sitting on a comfortable ergonomic chair for a good posture.

Only inspired tutors can inspire students. The enthusiasm is transferred from teachers to students and motivates them to stay passionate towards studies and continue to excel.

4. Communication is the key

Facilitators should communicate regularly with each student in an online environment so that students feel like they’re part of a learning community. 

Communication is equally important, if not more, in the online classroom environment. Plan some ice-breaking sessions and try to create some connection and warmth among students. Communication can also be via other modes like emails, chat, videos etc.  

Teachers should set clear expectations, yet keep the session fun and interactive. Get to know your students, based on their strengths and skills. 

  • Reduce the nervousness and anxiety among students
  • make them comfortable
  • answer their queries calmly
  • communicate mentioning their names
  • give feedback
  • repeat instructions for more clarity 

Frequent communication is a key way to keep the students engaged, on track, and successful.

5. Facilitate and motivate students

To master the art of virtual teaching, teachers have to shift roles from being a lecturer to a facilitator, who provides resources, monitors progress, and motivates students. 

While every student learns at a different pace, motivation plays a big role in the learning journey. Think of ways to motivate students to get the most out of them, via appreciation, giving extra points for online discussions, or giving them more roles to play. 

Deadlines and group formations help push unmotivated students and bring out brilliant results. 

(Read: 8 Tips for improving student engagement in your virtual classroom)

6. Be flexible

During virtual sessions, there may be circumstances that prevent students from completing their work as expected and in time. Teachers must be flexible as online courses bring additional challenges. 

The learning experience from home varies for each student depending on –

  • the home environment and support
  • infrastructures such as computers and the internet
  • social-emotional wellness quotient
  • learning abilities 

Handling the class with more flexibility can give additional thrust to result-oriented success.

7. More attention to detail

In virtual class, where you haven’t met students, you require a keener observation and attention to detail. Pick up on signs, expressions, words indicative of struggles, and then acting accordingly to resolve issues. 

If students are facing any challenges, there should be an option to reach out to the teacher directly. Even the IT support team is required to assist to resolve the issues. 

If a student requires help in completing assignments, or missed sessions, the online teacher should put in extra effort and work in collaboration to get the potential problem identified and resolved.

8. Choose words wisely

When you are not face-to-face with your audience/students, your words are the only way to get your point across, be it verbal or written communication. In an online environment, with limited visual cues, a relationship is only nurtured through constructive and positive words. 

The communication should be crisp, clear, professional, and unambiguous. Keep a consistent format for all communication messages. Do not use slang language, sarcasm or words of regional languages. 

Always use friendly language which focuses on student’s strengths and offers support. The teacher should be approachable, corrective efforts should be collaborative and the language should be positive and focused on achievements.

To master the art of virtual teaching, teachers have to shift roles from being a lecturer to a facilitator, who provides resources, monitors progress, and motivates students.

To master the art of virtual teaching, teachers have to shift roles from being a lecturer to a facilitator, who provides resources, monitors progress, and motivates students.

Final Thoughts

Online education is a wonderful opportunity for educators. The potential flexibility is a boon for all. Online teaching is the new norm, but it isn’t as difficult as it might first appear. You need to complete your research, plan your methods, select the right virtual platform, and be ready to take the big leap. 

Although online instruction throws its own set of unique challenges, if you follow these eight strategies, be creative, and adapt, you can easily master the art of online education.

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