Online Teaching Skills

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Effective Use of TPR

Total physical response, also known as TPR, is the ability to use hand gestures and your body to help your students learn.

Think of TPR as your unique way to bring the lesson, words, concepts and sentences to life! 
Do you need to act like a clown? Absolutely not!

Practice simple gestures and actions with your hands that might help your students learn. 

For example, when you ask them to draw a circle around something, you can use your mouse to model that in the air! 

If you are teaching them about the concepts of large and small, use your hands to demonstrate those adjectives.

TPR doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Think simple and use TPR when appropriate to help your student pair the action with the word. 

Tip: Have your student do the action as well, they will love it!

Ability to Engage Your Students

One of the unique challenges with teaching English online is that you only have your audio and visuals to teach with on your camera screen. 

You don’t have the opportunity to be in the same room as your students, which means you need to amplify your energy and engagement! 

Engaging your student can look like many different things. 

Try connecting with them on a personal level. 

Ask them about their hobbies and interests or find connections to their life by asking relevant questions.

Think about what type of online class you would like to be in and then create that fun and engaging environment for your student! 

Why not include some online TEFL games

You know you have it in you to be fun and creative-just let your true personality shine!

Engagement will take you a long way and help your students return and come back for more of your fabulous classes!

Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses

Sometimes we only have a short amount of time to assess our students, deliver quality instruction and help them achieve results.

You might only have 30 minutes to meet your student and identify their strengths and weaknesses.

That’s not a lot of time but if you are skilled you can figure out ways to help them in the first few minutes!

You need to be able to ask appropriate questions to get your student speaking from the beginning. 

This will help you learn how to adapt the lesson to meet their needs almost immediately.

Not all students are correctly placed so it is your job as their teacher to scaffold or extend the lesson to best meet their needs. 

If the lesson is too easy, find ways to extend beyond the lesson and if it’s too challenging, find small areas they can succeed in and support them in the challenging areas.

Try to do this in the first 5 minutes of your lesson!

Scaffold Challenging Concepts

What do you do when a student doesn’t understand you? 

Have you ever asked a question or given a direction but were met with a blank stare?

What can you do? Besides repeating and going around in circles, we can scaffold for our students to help them feel successful.

Firstly, reflect on your question or instruction. 
Was it too complicated? Break your sentence down into smaller steps. 

Use props to assist your teaching and don’t forget about good ‘ol TPR. 

Make sure that you don’t put the blame on your student for not understanding but rather take a look at how you are delivering the content and scaffold from there.

A great scaffolding strategy is to use your whiteboard to break down words into smaller chunks and give them more support before expecting them to be independent.

Ability to Use Props and Visuals Effectively

Most teachers didn’t go to school for puppetry nor learn how to teach with stuffed animals, toys and props. 

Using props and visuals, however, is a necessary component of teaching English online and actually, it can be a lot of fun! 

Using props effectively means that you are intentional about when and how you use them and the purpose is to bring your lesson to life!

Try creating your own props from household items, use digital props from software like ManyCam or find images that you can print from the internet. 

The sky really is the limit!

Using props like these helps engage your students, ignite curiosity and simply create a more exciting lesson!

Ability to Use and Troubleshoot Technology

No matter what capacity you are teaching English online at, you will need to have some proficiency with technology. 

You will most likely be using your desktop or laptop to teach online but you might be using a device like an iPad or a phone.

Most online ESL companies have their own built-in classroom software but you might also be using applications like Zoom or ClassIn to teach your classes. 

A basic understanding of how to change your audio and video settings is needed as well as how to navigate the built-in functions of your classroom. 

Sometimes the internet Gods don’t cooperate so knowing how to change your wifi settings, connect using an ethernet cord and troubleshoot should be in your “technology toolkit.”

You might need to drag and drop items on the screen, type text, draw and encourage your students to do the same.  

Practice before entering a new classroom platform and get familiar with the tools.

Know how to ask for support and how to troubleshoot and keep a list next to you of things you can do when you are “in the moment” and having trouble.

Beyond your equipment, you will need to figure out your lighting situation and general technology setup to make sure that you look great and so does your classroom!