I consider myself lucky that I didn’t have to teach online during previous academic year. My first ever online lesson was last October 2020. Now, I have been teaching fully online from my classroom for the past three weeks and I am still not sure whether I like it or not..Here are the reasons why:
- Suitability. For whatever reason this type of learning and working from home clearly suits some children better than others, which obviously can be said for adults too. I am not saying everyone is doing better at home but I can see a positive difference in some of those children who struggle with their attention span in class. They don’t get as easily distracted by others when learning online and they show more effort during online lessons than in class. TIP: Please remember to turn on the “closed captions” from your settings allowing English subtitles to everyone’s speech. That helps a lot with understanding each other although it is not 100% accurate all the time.
- Quietness in the classroom. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it is so nice to have the classroom only for yourself. Some days I tend to get a headache during the working hours if the noise level in school has been high. Currently, I don’t even have to think about it. It’s just me and my music playing on the background during break times.
- Online resources. I am so grateful for the modern technology allowing us to do so many things online. This is not a paid advertisement or any other collaboration with Twinkl but I have to say that Twinkl is amazing. We have been still able to play hang man virtually although the name of the game was different. Their Math, Science and English presentations and worksheets function beautifully online.
- ICT lessons. Honestly, I am considering to keep on teaching ICT via Zoom even in the classroom in the future. Sharing my screen to everyone and showing what we need to be doing that way has worked better for my class than projecting my screen to the whiteboard in the classroom.
- Simultaneous participation. I have been using the chat feature of Zoom quite a lot because I want to see how everyone is coping with the taught content. In the classroom, I would be walking around and checking that way how my pupils complete given tasks but nowadays I obviously don’t have the chance to do that. Therefore, I often ask them to type their answers and send them to me in a private message. Private messages allow your quiet and/or shy pupils to take part without the possibility of feeling embarrassed in front of the group if their answer was incorrect. However, I have tried to teach my class to embrace academic mistakes but it is only human to still feel ashamed when making them.
- Suitability. The other side of the coin. Big freedom comes with a big responsibility. Some children show less motivation and less effort online when there is no one there physically next to them to give that extra support, guidance and encouragement to stay focused. Pupils either play around with Zoom in various ways, play with their pets, play video games during the lessons or walk away from the screen without letting you know why and some do gymnastics in their rooms even though you might not be teaching P.E. Like I said earlier, online learning and working from home is not for everyone.
- Working pace. I would be curious to find out who if anyone is able to get the same amount of work done online with Primary pupils as they would in a classroom. Maybe there is no issue with older students regarding this matter but everything just seems to take us longer and I can’t really point the reason why.
- Behavior management. Some teachers have fallen in love with the “mute” button but not me. Yes, I do use it sometimes but I want to avoid using it as a punishment because it does not exist in the real life either. I usually only mute my pupils if they have accidentally left their microphones on and if they have disturbing background noises. Even this I do only if another pupil is talking and I can’t hear him/her due the background noise of someone else. I don’t like to interrupt the pupil in the middle of the sentence but if I am speaking I will happily stop and ask those forgotten microphones to be muted. All in all, there are not as many tools to help teachers with behavior online as we do have in school. E.g. I have not been giving house points nor are we able to use our traffic light behavior chart online the way we do in class.
- Loneliness. Children don’t have their classmates to play outside with during breaks and there is no eating lunch together etc. Same goes for teachers. All the chit chat in between lessons and that live social interaction is missing when teaching online. It is easier to forget that you are a part of a community when sitting alone all day long whether it is at home or in an empty classroom. I don’t get the same feeling of belonging to a group when seeing them only online.
- Physical activity. Nowadays, I unfortunately don’t have any gadget tot measure my steps during the day but if I did I am sure it would show less steps than normally. I love my current profession for the fact that I don’t have to sit all day long at my desk like I used to in an office before. However, I am now back being glued to my seat for all those lessons of mine. Hopefully, this is only temporary and I will be allowed to get back on my feet as soon as possible to teach while standing.
What are your thoughts about online learning? Could you stay teaching or learning online forever or are you counting the days and minutes to get physically back to the school?