How Covid-19 has changed the world of online teaching
Written by Catherine Kilbane
The impact of Covid-19
If you have read my previous blogs, you’ll know that I was meant to be in China now teaching English to primary school children for a year. As for most people, Covid-19 has had a massive impact on all our lives. From our work life, to seeing friends and family, travelling and holidays, and to just going out to the shops or for a meal. Everything has changed and we are now living in the ‘new normal’ – even though we are still working out what that is! Working in an office/ classroom environment seems a distant memory and having group get togethers and celebrations are all but a dream!
Using different online platforms to teach
When I started on my TEFL journey last year, I was planning to build my teaching experience in the classroom first, before moving to teaching online. When my China plans fell through in March, I jumped straight into the online classroom and into teaching online. One of the first things I noticed was the huge demand for teachers online and the amount of schools that have had to adapt and setup an online classroom for their students, so they don’t miss out on their education. There are so many new platforms and lots of different ways to teach online. From the in-house platforms and apps set up by companies, to the online meeting platforms such as Skype, Zoom and Hangout, each platform brings something different to the market.
Having so many different platforms to choose from and work with, it’s great for a new teacher like me as it helps to build my experience and gets me used to working and teaching in different ways. A couple of the companies I teach with have their own in-house teaching platform which is great. Lesson plans and lesson materials are already setup and provided and follows a course structure, and things like marking attendance and student/ teacher calendars are all included, making office admin a lot easier! When I’m planning my own lessons for my students, I have my own diary and create my own lesson plans, so I need to factor in time to make sure everything is well prepared in advance for each lesson.
The benefits of teaching english online
One of the many benefits of teaching online, is being able to teach students around the world from the comfort of your own home. It also means you can teach students in groups that maybe wouldn’t normally be in the same class but are at the same learning level. Teaching small groups online is great fun, and a great way to build up your ‘classroom’ experience without actually being in the same room. One of the key skills to ensure a successful online group lesson is to make sure each student has equal speaking and interaction time. By using the students names you can ensure no student feels left out and each student is fully involved in the lesson. Obviously, it is hard to carry out certain group activities in an online classroom and some of the games and warm up/ cool down exercises we would normally use in a classroom just don’t work online. So, we must look at other options and activities to try and have the same impact.
Another benefit is the timing of lessons. Being a TEFL teacher, a lot of the students are learning English outside of their regular routine, whether that’s their day to day life in school or their 9-5 in the office. Being able to accommodate students throughout the day, without the need to travel to a school/ office/ learning centre, makes learning English online a lot more accessible to everyone. I know just from my students how important this is, and I can teach anytime from 8am to 10pm at night, 7 days a week. Sometimes this is due to the various time differences, however, being flexible is another key quality students and potential students look for in their teachers, so they don’t miss out on their learning needs.
Reaching a worldwide audience
Being able to reach such a wide audience is an amazing opportunity and really helps to build your skills as a teacher. As well as improving and expanding your teaching experiences, it’s a great way to meet people from around the world and learn about different cultures too. Teaching online, especially with the group lessons, has really helped to build my experience and improve my teaching skills for when it’s safe to go back into the classroom. I know that I will feel a lot more confident about teaching a class full of students after teaching my online group lessons!
Even though Covid-19 has caused a lot of negative impact on our daily lives, I think in the online teaching world, it has really shown how companies and teachers can transfer their skills, be quick to adapt to change, and ensure that students aren’t missing out on their learning needs and are able to jump into their online classroom with ease!
For more info on becoming a freelance online English teacher, please visit: catherinekilbane.co.uk