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Teaching in a COVID World

Since March 2020, many teachers across the UK have faced the great challenge of how to continue their students’ education. Teachers need to consider how they can deliver high-quality lessons that engage and promote thinking with our students via online learning. It is much more challenging to facilitate the learning, keep pupils motivated and keep their attention, so we need to think of more creative ways to structure remote learning.

We asked Chris Wallis (Vice Principal; Curriculum, Staff Development at Spires Teaching Alliance) to share his remote learning practice.

Watch the Teaching in a COVID World Video Here:

Here are a few tips and what you should consider when teaching online lessons.

Firstly, you should think about safety when delivering live remote lessons via zoom, teams, GoToWebinar or any other communication platform. You should:

  • Set the lobby in place (this helps limit people to get into your lesson who are not from your school).
  • Mute everyone and unmute only, where appropriate.
  • Have your camera turned on (use a virtual background or blur background option if your background is not blank).
  • Follow the dress code set up at your school and make sure you appear professional at all times.
  • Follow the same behaviour policy in place at your school when you see inadequate or inappropriate behaviour. Contact DSL where appropriate.
  • Record the lesson; this allows students to revisit the lesson and protects you from safeguarding point of view.

Secondly, we would like to look at the dual coding learning theory and online lesson planning. Dual coding is a principle of not overloading working memory. You should combine words and visuals to help students understand the information better. Try to keep writing to a minimum and use visuals such as pictures, diagrams and graphic organizers. When adding any images, make sure they are relevant to what you’re presenting. You should also make your presentation as simple and straight forward as possible to not overload the working memory.

You should think about how to increase engagement via online learning to make sure your students are involved and interested. There are many tools available that you can use when planning your lessons to make students engage more with your lesson.  Have a look at Padlet, Twiddla and Mentimeter . These are great online tools that will allow you to engage with your students in a more efficient way.

When writing your remote lesson, you should consider different aspects to make sure your students make most of it. Here are a few tips for your remote lesson:

  1. Create an opening slide with a question or task so students can engage as soon as joining the session. Use something from previous topics to encourage students to retrieve information from previous lessons.
  2. On your opening slide you should also add reminders such as keep your camera off, mute your mic, questions are being asked using the chat facility, chat facility is not for chatting or silly comments etc.
  3. When you teach content, you should maximize active engagement and promote thinking. Think about AFL (forums, hands up, chat etc.), modelling (I do, we do, you do), show students work (get them talk through), collaboration (use breakout rooms, Twiddla, whiteboard etc.) and questioning (pose, pause, pounce, bounce, Cold Calling, Think – Pair – Share).
  4. Give students a task that they need to do off the screen and then call them back and discuss their findings.
  5. At the end of the lesson conduct the assessment based on what you covered. Check if students understand where they are and what they need to do next.

Finally, we need to make sure we know what students think and how their thinking changes over the course of a learning sequence. Consider these four recommendations by Doug Lemov to check student understanding –

  • Real-time assessment – assess understanding and respond immediately
  • Implicit assessment – allow students to see and correct errors
  • Lagging assessment – identify specific lagging skills and unsolved problems
  • Planning and Practice – plan the type of feedback to provide and specify how students should respond.