Dear working-from-home educator,
You are probably staying at home and teaching your beloved students on the Internet. Since the beginning of the lockdown in the UK, I have been contacted by a few friends of mine, who have been forced to teach online, asking for some advice. So I thought I should share my experience with you this week.
No, this post is not about how to use Zoom or teach a lesson online. I´m sure you can find lots of information on social media.
I would love to share with you what steps I´ve taken to fall in love with online teaching.
Actually this story began …eight years ago… I had moved to Spain and after being unable to find work in a local school (as I didn´t speak Spanish) and feeling depressed for months, I woke up one morning with the idea that I should probably try looking for work online. I googled “online schools” and a few names popped up. I sent my CV to a couple of them and to cut the long story short a week later I started working for a famous online school.
Unfortunately, my experience was not positive:
*I was asked to use old-fashioned course books
*I had to wake up early (due to the time difference) and commence classes at 5 am! Yes, I know! I would never do it now but back then money was tight so I had to.
*the Internet in Spain was very slow (3 MB which increased to 6MB just before we left the country). Here in the UK, I enjoy using 70 MB…Sorry I am not boasting just mentioning facts.
*I was paid peanuts and a few months after I´d started, my payments were delayed…and eventually stopped.
That was the last straw that made me leave the online school and it´s a decision that changed my life forever. Luckily, most of my students asked me to continue teaching them privately and this is what I have been doing mostly since 2012.
Teaching online has a lot of pros and cons but I have learned a lot in the last few years and managed to turn most of the drawbacks into benefits.
So here are my tips for you that I believe could help you enjoy your online teaching experience.
Think about your posture
After working on a computer for so many years, I developed constant back, shoulder and neck pains. There were moments when the pain was intolerable. Luckily, I found a great masseuse who has helped me a lot but I also had to figure out why I was experiencing the pain. It turned out that I was not sitting correctly so after changing a few desks and chairs, I finally found the perfect solution- teaching standing. Due to the overpriced standing desks, I had to adapt my workspace. Now I can move around, enjoy the view of the beautiful rolling hills in the distance and avoid the pitfalls of a sedentary lifestyle.
Create different teaching spaces
I spend long hours teaching so I have decided to create different work zones in our flat which give me the feeling that I am going from “one classroom” to another. Of course, I had to make sure that I have stable and fast Internet in each room so investing in WiFi power-line boosters is something that I thoroughly recommend.
Give yourself breaks
I used to spend every single minute working and if I had a cancelled lesson, guess what, I was prepping or working on my next blog post. Now I’ve learned that in order to be able to focus, I need to allow myself to relax so I use every break to move away from the screen. I know that my eyes and brain need to take a rest so listening to relaxing music while doing a short meditation or a few yoga poses help me restore my energy levels.
Teaching online has helped me develop my creativity. So apart from the usual activities that an English lesson consists of, I have also
*cooked with my students
*taught them about mindfulness and visualising is constantly present in my lessons
*had a picnic with dinosaurs (oh, yeah, that was fun)
*taken them for a walk in the park
*created radio ads
*acted out using my puppets
Don´t neglect yourself
As I have been working from home for a few years now, I need to make sure that I look and feel good every day. So wearing my new clothes and nice perfume is a way for me to feel good as a woman and separate my work time from family time.
I hope taking a glimpse of my world has given you some tips on making your online teaching more pleasant and creative.