“5 things I have learned since I started teaching online!”

Tips from an ESL teacher about transitioning from face-to-face teaching to the online classroom:

Tip #1: Familiarise yourself with the online platform before your first class. 

It’s a good idea to have a practice class before your actual class with students, even if it’s just by yourself. Make sure all your material and software is working, check how you look on camera, how you sound, if your videos play. 

This won’t eliminate all possible issues but it will definitely make you feel a bit more comfortable with your new classroom surroundings. 

Tip #2: Introduce your students to the platform.  

Even if you are teaching a class of ‘digital natives’ don’t assume that all students will be comfortable or even understand how to use the online platform. 

Just like showing students around the classroom on their first day in a school, do the same with their online classroom. 

In your first lesson give a brief explanation about the layout of the platform and what tools they may need to use during the class. This can make the experience more inviting and less intimidating.

Tip #3: Make it interactive. 

Just because the lesson is through a screen doesn’t mean it has to be one dimensional.

Think about how the slides will look on the students’ screens.

You can use colours, sounds, videos, polls, quizzes, games, even group breakout activities. Use all the features available to you to ensure that students are engaged and connecting as much as possible! 

Tip #4: Always have extra material prepared.

Even something simple like conversation questions or a game. Many times in my online classes the students would complete activities much quicker than expected. So having a quick, ready-to-go activity or game suitable for online classes (like pictionary using the virtual whiteboard) was always handy! 

Tip #5: Look at the camera! 

If you are hosting a live class make sure that you are looking into the camera or webcam and not at the screen when you’re talking to the students. 

It may feel more comfortable to look at the screen, but by looking into the camera the students will feel that you are engaging directly with them and not just with the computer. 

Most importantly…enjoy it!

It will be a new experience for a lot of people, teachers and students alike. It doesn’t have to be perfect, those of us teaching know that a class rarely goes exactly as planned. 

So don’t panic if the connection drops or your material isn’t coming up on the screen. At the end of the day it is all a learning experience.

Best of luck in your online teaching journey! 

Siobhan McNutt


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