If you are a teacher, you know that you are always on the lookout for ways to make your classroom move more smoothly. In this post you will find 15 tips to use in your online classroom gig with VIPKID.
For this post, I have added some of my own tips but here is an older video from Nancy that are still very applicable and explains some of these tips in detail.
Whether you are a veteran or newbie, getting your classroom set-up just right is going to make a huge impact on your level of effective teaching. Grab Nancy's free Classroom Set-up Guide to see the equipment she uses and recommends for your classroom.
During class time, have a notebook or side screen where you can take notes while you are teaching the student. It can get confusing as you move quickly from class to class so be sure to write it down. Nancy likes to use the 'sandwich method' to write two things the student did well and one constructive criticism in between.
Something I have done from the beginning of my teaching journey is save my feedbacks on a word document (in google drive). I organize them by 'Levels' then broken into 'Units'. Each lesson gets a feedback specific to what was taught and then I save it. After years of teaching I rarely have to write an entire feedback from scratch because I have taught most of the lessons multiple times. I just do a quick search to find the lesson and add a bit of personalization. This takes a bit of time on the backend but helps me write feedback very quickly between classes.
You can also sign up to use the service "Feedback Panda". This service allows you to access thousands of feedback templates from other teachers and organize student data and records.
You might be ok to sit for one hour of teaching but after two classes, my body is ready to move around. I can't move all my equipment with me to teach the class while I run around (but wouldn't that be entertaining) so I need to find ways to move to give me energy and relieve my restless legs. Some tricks to try are:
Have water handy before, during and after class. I have my water bottle ready before classes start the next day (as part of my prep that I talk about more below). I like to drink about half before my classes begin, sip in between classes while I type feedback and then finish the whole bottle when I'm done teaching. It helps prevent cotton mouth and it also makes me drink a ton of water at the start of my day (something I am terrible at when I don't teach). Yay for hydration!
Keep these handy or write on your notebook about things you think of during class. This can be anything from a fun reward idea to a prop you want to make. I have even used these as a backup reward by putting "A" and "B" post-its on my hands to have the student guess to find a star. These can be really handy so keep them close in the classroom.
I love what Nancy says in the video....
"Make your rewards often and be specific."
Don't just say "Good job". Say "Great reading" or "Yes! You used a whole sentence!" You still want to use appropriate simple language for the student but let them know specifically what they did well at when you are rewarding. And be sure to do it often. You don't always have to tie it into a reward system. Rewards can be a thumbs up, high five, clap, or funny face. Give them some encouragement to gain confidence.
Be sure to correct their pronunciation. I like to circle the word on the screen that they said incorrectly. Then I say it in isolation (student repeats). Next I say it in the sentence (student repeats again). Be sure to focus on careful pronunciation but don't dwell on it either. We don't want to shoot down a young learners confidence by repeating the word "parallelogram" fifty times until they get it just right. Let them do their best, reward, and move on.
Part of my lesson prep is to give a quick glance into the previous teacher comments for each student. This helps me know what to expect from the student and what I may need to work on. I don't always write my own teacher comments but when I do I try to include the students behavior (good/bad), things they need help with and the reward system I used. This is usually no more than one to two sentences but is a great quick reminder for myself when I see them again.
Give yourself permission to adjust the activities. If the student is cruising through the lesson, find some time for a conversation about the topic or get to know them better. Or maybe it's the exact opposite! The student is taking a long time to get through the lesson so you read a bit of the text or help more often. Adjust to the students needs and interests to make a more interesting and effective class.
The general rule is to spend about 1 minute per slide. I am constantly checking the timer to make sure I am pacing myself correctly for class. I like to end right at the 25 minute mark so that I can quickly type feedback and get to my next class on time. Be sure that you remember to pace your rewards as well. You don't want to give them all the stars in the last 2 minutes (uh, guilty!). Space those stars out so they get a star every 5 minutes. After you have done this for awhile it will become second nature.
I have a whole blog post that will help you with handling the upper levels but here are a few tips to use for those advanced students:
It is never fun to be on the wrong end of a technology issue. It can be stressful for both sides especially as the clock ticks away and nothing is happening. Before your classes be sure to test your equipment and have it all up and running ahead of the class time in case something goes wrong. It is also a good idea to have a back-up for your teaching platform (computer or tablet) and internet (WIFI or Hotspot). Then if you encounter a problem while you are teaching, run through this checklist before you completely give up and get a Teacher_IT mark on your schedule. Keep going down the list until the issue is resolved.
Make things easy to look and feel your best in those early morning hours before bed. I keep a little make-up in my classroom in case I wake up a little late and need to hide those baggy eyes. I also wear my classroom clothes to bed (should I admit that on the internet, probably not). I keep a few teacher hoodies or jackets in my classroom so that when I get there I can throw them on quick and look a little pulled together. Make all the things easier so that it's not a huge process each time you sit down to teach. I put my props organized within reach so that if I forget to grab one for a certain class, I can quickly reach over without getting up during the lesson.
You really don't need a lot to make a fun lesson. You can utilize your body movement and sounds so much in almost every lesson to add to the overall classroom experience. Move around the screen, TPR, clap your hands, be loud/soft, move close and far from the camera.... the possibilities are endless and better yet, they are free! Get creative with what yo mama gave you!
I like to enter the classroom, grab my props, and open my feedback doc to take notes while I teach. I take a big drink and make sure I look ok. If there is time, I check my internet, mic, and camera too.
I always clean up my props/rewards after EACH CLASS! This has helped my classroom stay organized and helped me be more efficient with my teaching too. Then I open up to the next class (if there is one). While I wait for the start time, I type up the feedback from the class I just taught. I am usually done with all of my class feedback before the next lesson starts. At the end of all the lessons for the day I set up my classroom for the next day. This has been a lifesaver if I sleep in or if there are any IT issues. I like coming into my classroom the next day with everything ready to go!
I hope these tips are helpful for in in finding new ways to make teaching easier and more fun! Happy teaching friends!