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How to Teach from the Comfort of Your Own Home, a Helpful Guide

Online teaching has brought with it a range of unexplored and unknown territories, especially when it comes to its relative novelty when compared to orthodox teaching methods.

The following are a few simple yet effective practices you can follow to become an efficient online teacher. Combined with a comprehensive course outline and the right resources, online learning can prove to be even more effective as compared to a conventional classroom setting.

First, let’s give you a quick roundup, then we’ll dive into more details.

How do you teach from the comfort of your own home?

You can adopt the following methods to assist you in teaching from home:

  • Be present

  • Let your students do the work

  • Set clear expectations

  • Cultivate a supportive environment

  • Think before you write

  • Make learning fun and engaging

  • Ask for honest feedback

  • Develop a positive relationship with students

  • Make use of readily available resources

So now we’ve had the quick overview, let’s go through some of these to give you a more in-depth look at how to teach from the comfort of your own home.

Being present

Obviously, you’re not physically present in an online setting, but there are a number of ways you can make yourself known in the digital domain. In order to achieve such presence online, you’ll need to make use of a wide range of various communication methods and make sure that you check in on them every day or even on an hourly basis if needed. Emails, discussion boards, announcements and forums are some of the ways you can mark your presence each day in your online classroom. Once the course begins, set up clear guidelines for all your students about when you will be present to assist them.

Let your students do the work

The main objective of learning is to keep students involved in the content for as long as possible. For this to happen, you need to create suitable opportunities. In his book Principles of Effective Online Pedagogy, Professor of Psychology, Bill Pelz concludes that the more time students spend remaining focused and engaged in the relevant content, the more they are likely to learn. In order to give your students sufficient opportunity to engage with each other, as well as with the content, you can ask them to search for and discuss interesting resources, mark their own assignments, and conduct discussions led by groups of students in the online forums.

Set clear expectations

Since the online classroom might feel a bit free-form, you will need to present to your students a very clear set of guidelines and expectations. These expectations can include everything from what they should expect from you as their teacher, to what you expect from each of them. These expectations should summarise your communication frequency, due dates for assignments, the amount of online participation you require of them, and the overall behaviour they’ll be expected to show throughout the course.

Cultivate a supportive environment

Since this online space is the students’ classroom, you want your students to feel as encouraged as possible while they’re here. Using a variety of dialogue structures, you can make sure that the coursework you have designed attends to all learning types, allowing the students to thrive at the same time. Motivate your students to make use of the general forum for healthy discussion. In addition to this, set up small groups within the classroom so that students can properly engage in support and feedback along with their classmates. Some students are able to learn from the sidelines, while others will actively learn from engaging in such a type of communication.

Think before you write

Not only is this an essential principle for all teachers to follow, but one that should be conveyed to all students from the very beginning. Written text can be left for open interpretation or misinterpretation at any given time; it’s immensely important to write carefully considered posts and responses to your students. While crafting feedback to assignments and other evaluations, the ideal tone to use is a clear, simple and polite one.

Since these responses are all that your students have when it comes to your feedback, make sure that you leave nothing open to interpretation.

Make learning fun and engaging

For students, listening to someone online or on video is a vastly different experience to watching someone in the classroom. Video does not provide the same level of visual stimulation as seeing a teacher in action. You can address this by being aware of and adapting your teaching style. Avoid monotone speech, use screen sharing and other materials to avoid being a “talking head” for the entire lesson. Use facial expressions to convey what would be missing in the classroom and ensure your upper body is providing the all-important communication from body movement. No one likes a boring lesson! And whilst teachers are taught to be engaging, just be mindful that you may need to work that little bit harder to engage students by video. Smile more, use natural conversational movements and tones, and make it engaging to watch.

Ask for honest feedback

You should ask your students for honest and direct feedback regarding how things are progressing. This feedback should include everything from teaching methods to course content and ask for any aspects that require improvement. The ideal way to achieve this is in a formal manner, therefore you should consider posting something on the discussion board and observe where it goes.

Develop a positive relationship with all your students

1:1 interaction with each student is as effective and crucial as group communication. Students attending online courses can sometimes feel alone and deserted in the digital classroom. Therefore, it’s up to you to remain in touch.

Make use of readily available resources

Since your students are already making use of the internet in order to sign in to the learning portal, the ideal resources for them are going to be those which are available online. By using a variety of appropriate yet easily accessible resources, such as news sites, online publications, and online videos, your students are more likely to remain focused and involved than if they just had to refer to a traditional textbook. Wherever possible, mobile content should be incorporated. Students are more likely to show interest in content that can be readily accessed through their mobile device or smartphone.

Resources for online teaching

Use dedicated online conferencing platforms designed with students in mind. Platforms like BigBlueButton provide a comprehensive solution for teaching students online. It offers live audio, video, slides, chat, and screen sharing. Students are kept engaged through whole class discussions, interesting yet relevant polls, and breakout rooms.

Moreover, features such as the live whiteboard allow notes to be automatically displayed back to your students in real time. You can even zoom, draw, highlight and write, making your notes more comprehensive for your online students.

Main features of BigBlueButton

  • Chat: Send public and private messages.

  • Webcams: Conduct visual meetings.

  • Audio: Communicate using high-quality audios.

  • Emojis: Express yourself effectively.

  • Breakout Rooms: Group students into breakout rooms for team discussions.

  • Polling: Design polls for your students.

  • Screen Sharing: Share your screen with your audience.

  • Multi-user Whiteboard: Make notes together.

To close

We hope this has provided you with a useful set of tools to take teaching from home to the next level. It may take time to adapt your practice and involve learning new tools and approaches, but it’s a great way to provide effective teaching.


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