Preparing to Teach Online for the First Time
Written by Rose Lombard, a current Buddy at IQBar
Online teaching is one of those topics that sound quite daunting at first, well; at least it did to me. I am an introvert, so this seemed like something very scary for me to do. It’s the fear of the unknown I guess, but boy am I happy I took this leap of faith! I remember when I first thought about applying to teach online at IQBar. I didn’t give it too much thought and I had a pretty good idea what classroom teaching was like so naturally I compared online teaching to classroom teaching.
I have been a teacher for about 5 years and have had my fair share of teaching young learners, working with children both on a one-to-one basis and in various classroom settings. Somehow I convinced myself that teaching online would be a breeze as I wouldn’t have 25 + children all staring me down begging for some attention and assistance!
I was intrigued by what I was reading on IQBar’s website and thought this would be a great opportunity to be flexible with my teaching. This was ideal as I planned to travel and do some other tasks on the side. I was very excited about the fact that all the teaching material was planned and all I had to do was teach it. Once again making my travelling seem doable - but I soon realised that there is much more to just teaching the content when it comes to online ESL!
As I went through the application process, the interview and all the training, I realised that I might have underestimated online teaching. I became aware of just how much actually does go into the process and what is required in order to be an online teacher. That being said, it is very different to the standard classroom teaching environment. Everything happens on the little screen in front of you and it is your job to make sure you are able to deliver the best lessons you can.
After my first few lessons it was clear that online teaching is a huge adjustment from classroom teaching, forcing me to change the way I taught. I had to learn to use more of my body, face and gestures whereas before, the learners I was teaching just understood with little help from these kinds of movements and gestures.
Figuring out what works
As I continued to teach lessons, I started finding what worked for me. I started enjoying my lessons way more because I wasn’t as focused on being perfect. I made a lot of mistakes but I also learnt so much from them. I tried many different methods, actions and activities and eventually I found my groove. I think that is the biggest advantage of working for IQBar, even though we follow a fixed curriculum and structured procedures, we are able to bring our own personality and flare to teaching. This is definitely something that has been beneficial to me in my short online teaching path.
Another thing I never thought I’d gain from teaching for IQBar was, and is, the constant learning and knowledge enrichment from all the seminars, management teams and the other teachers. I never expected to feel so accepted and valued by a virtual company and all the employees - all of this while I was sitting half way across the world. I can definitely say the support I have received has been phenomenal and it really has given me the confidence to try new things and constantly better myself.
So I would like to share a few things I have become aware of since teaching online that has helped me be more successful:
Make sure you know, understand and are familiar with the content.
Not only will this prepare you for your lesson but you will be able to ensure fluidity and limit any unexpected challenges that may arise due to the content.
Create a working environment where you are able to thrive.
It is important to make sure the space you are teaching in allows you to be focused, productive and organised. A messy working space will not help with structure and preparation. Instead it will cause chaos and constantly searching for things that are misplaced.
Learn to use your technology effectively and master the programmes you use daily.
Honestly this has been something I have really had to work on. I had basic knowledge of the different programmes I used but once I started really learning about them they have made my online teaching a lot better and way more enjoyable. This then allowed me to create tons of things to use in my sessions.
Make sure you always communicate.
This is the best thing to do when you are unsure of something or just want some questions answered. I find IQBar’s management team really is amazing with communicating and answering questions. I have learnt not to hesitate and rather get the correct information and know I am on the right track.
It is so important to ask for help when you need it.
There are many different people in place that are ready to assist whenever needed. Rather ask for help and make sure you are doing the correct thing. This really helped me knowing I was able to ask for help when I felt stuck or needed to solve a problem.
Pay close attention to any feedback.
Feedback is a great way to improve your future teaching skills. It’s the best way to challenge yourself and make sure you are constantly improving. I try to use the feedback to improve my sessions and challenge myself to reach and meet my target points.
Set goals and targets.
I found setting goals has been so important for me. I like to write down a list of short term goals I would like to achieve within my IQBar job. It important for me to visualise them and know what I am working towards as this way I can stay accountable and really work on self-improvement.
Lastly, I’ve learnt that it is so important to relax and have as much fun as possible with teaching.
Online teaching is a great platform and it is so rewarding when all the aspects work together. Although the best part are those lessons I am sure everyone can relate to - the ones where you are having just as much fun teaching as the student is while learning.
Overall I can confidently say online teaching has opened up a whole new world for me and I am so happy I decided to pursue it. Yes it can be daunting, nerve wrecking and a little chaotic at times, but I have really found it to be so great in my life. Getting to teach students across the world, being able to travel while still doing what I love, while working with a great company and super supportive colleagues; I couldn’t have asked for much more. Hopefully my thoughts helps any other teacher who feels like I felt at first. Take the leap of faith, you’ve got nothing to lose!