"What I didn’t expect about teaching online" - Joanna, IH Bristol Teacher
Making the switch to online teaching earlier this year was an exciting challenge for us - here, IH Bristol teacher Joanna shares how her expectations compared to reality:
"Like many teachers and students, I was nervous about the change to teaching online. What would it be like? What if my computer didn’t work? Would it be awkward to speak to people via a webcam?
Turns out it was completely unlike anything I’d thought! Here’s some things that surprised me most about teaching online.
1) Students ask loads of questions!
I’d thought everyone being in different rooms around the world would make it harder to communicate, but in many ways it’s the opposite. Perhaps it’s the fact that being in your own house makes you more confident, but whatever the reason I’ve found students are more willing to speak up, ask questions, and really listen to and communicate with each other. Even though we’re further apart than a normal class, we’re closer than ever.
2) My students are incredibly dedicated.
Maybe I’m just lazy, but wouldn’t you think studying from home would make you more likely to skip class, or get distracted by what’s going on around you? Turns out my wonderful students find the time to study English even when they have jobs and families to worry about. I even have a student from Colombia who gets up at 3am to study with me! I’m so privileged to have such an incredible group of learners.
3) How tiring it is to sit in a chair and study from a screen all day.
I definitely underestimated this factor. In a classroom I’m often walking around, standing at the board and being relatively active. I thought sitting at my desk would give me a break, but it’s surprisingly tiring. Besides getting a comfy chair with good back support, I really recommend stretching your legs during breaks and going for a walk at the end of your lessons. This also gives me a chance to reflect on the lessons that day and make a plan for tomorrow.
4) The diversity of students.
All the learning and teaching being online has opened the possibility to study up to all types of people who wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity. Our student body has become far more diverse, from people working full time choosing part-time courses, to those who couldn’t travel to the UK, to those in the UK whose disabilities mean studying in person is challenging.
5) I love it!
Despite missing the face to face contact of my school, overall I’ve been really surprised how much I’ve enjoyed teaching online. All the things I love about teaching are still there - the connection to my students, seeing them improve, laughing and joking together, and the joy of the ‘aha’ moment when a student finally understands something they’ve been struggling with. All this from the comfort of my own home. What’s not to love?"
- Joanna, IH Bristol Teacher