November 2020 BLOG
Teaching from home into the classroom
Teaching from home into the classroom is a daunting thought. Even the most experienced classroom practitioners may struggle when pulled out of their comfort zone and thrust into the world of talking to a webcam and watching the class through a 15-inch window.
Since returning in September six members of teaching staff have been required to isolate and therefore have taught into the classroom from home. All our study supervisors have been on the classroom side.
In this month’s blog Kevin Staniland, Jen Aparo and Vikki Miles share their experiences with the aim of offering supporting advice if you are ever required to do the same.
Running a remote lesson into the classroom allows you to have full control of the class and learning – this is especially important if you know you are going to be out for a substantial length of time.
- Before starting the call on Teams, make sure you have all the apps you need for the lesson open on your laptop. If you do this, then you can open and share them on the screen for the students to use much more easily (professionally) than sharing your desktop screen. It also means that you can do other things on your laptop without having to freeze the screen in the classroom i.e. class charts.
- The study supervisor in the classroom is vitally important to how the lesson runs. Their confidence in running the classroom side of the operation is key to the quality of the lesson. They need to be fully involved in the lesson. They need to be listening to my every word so if I wanted to do something with the class or on the screen, they are there to support.
- I usually started the lesson with a PowerPoint already up with a “do now task” displayed. This settles the class early and means they don’t have to look at your giant head looming over them on the board. Put your ‘do now task’ in the cover details you send as well as in your itslearning Plan. Make this a fully independent task so the study supervisor can set up the Teams meeting if needed.
- Being able to see into the class allows you to monitor student behaviour and engagement easily. They often forget you are able to see them using their phones which makes handling the behaviour much easier. Obviously the study supervisor plays a big role here, but it allows you to see what they miss.
- As you are able to see into the class it is possible to check students work easily in a number of ways.
- simply get the student to bring the work to the camera, so that you can have a discussion about what they have done/need to do.
- if the work is more detailed and the students have access to laptops or BYOT - I set up an assignment before the lesson and get the students to submit their work at various stages during the lesson. They can do this directly (laptop) or by submitting a photo of the work taken on their phones. I found this particularly useful for GCSE coursework lessons where feedback is paramount to them succeeding. Submitted work can then be displayed on the board for class discussions/peer assessment.
- Use the functions and apps in Teams - the one I found most useful was MS Whiteboard which has a link on the share screen options page. When you click on it you have the option of downloading the full app, which I would recommend. Using this I was able to demonstrate in real time how to do 3D perspective drawings for the entire class. It also gives you the option to write text.
- Kahoot is also available to either run directly through teams or by sharing your desktop. It is actually possible to run a Kahoot quiz from home, which obviously makes a good plenary and assessment of class understanding.
- At the end of the lesson, getting the study supervisor to freeze the last PowerPoint slide, allows the class to work the plenary task without you in the room. This is useful for giving yourself time to set up the next lesson. If you have back to back lessons, use this time to get up off your chair/sofa and walk around. Get a cup of tea and prepare for the next round – which is probably the most important thing you can do to maintain sanity!
The things that I enjoyed about the zoom lessons are:
- You had contact with the students - the behaviour seemed good.
- You could take control of the power point and move on at the student's pace.
- As a teacher you have knowledge of how fast or slow your students can work.
- You can answer questions that may arise during the lessons and choose students to answer them.
- All the students sat in their seating plan, so I was able to use it too just in case I forgot a student's name.
Some key things to support teachers are;
- Putting your video links into the Plan on itslearning and allowing the study supervisor to manually run them. I would just ask the study supervisor to stop when needed so I could discuss with the class
- It would be good if the camera were higher up so I could see most of the class so don’t be afraid to ask the study supervisor to move the camera if needed
- As I had a full teaching day - it felt very intense concentrating on the screen for such a long period and sitting in front of the computer was a bit of a pain after a while.
- I would suggest you use the time between lessons and while the study supervisor is settling and registering to get up and move around
- Plan in independent tasks for students where you can still be a presence in the lesson, but not needing to stare at the screen.
The second day was more successful than the first. I was used to the set up and what to expect. Had I carried on for a longer time, I believe this whole process would have become easier still.
I also had prepared all the resources in advance and put them in the appropriate book boxes which made it easier for the cover staff – if you are not able to do this yourself, consider working with another member of the department who could do copying of worksheets
As a cover supervisor, I obviously see the other side of the live lesson.
- Preparation for me, whenever possible, is key. I found that when setting up for the lesson it is easier to get there and be ready to go if possible. Obviously if we are covering another class the other side of the College then it is a struggle and a rush.
- When I've been there and managed to be ready and prepared it seems so much calmer at the start of the lesson. I still use the students (in a COVID friendly way!) to hand out resources and books etc. while I take the register.
- A ‘do now task’ is essential. Having this in advance so I can be prepared for the students made setting up and taking the register much easier. If it is on the itslearning plan, I can access it or if it is sent in advance it can be photocopied and I can hand to class immediately.
- If the PowerPoint is in the itslearning Plan that would also be a great help: if the Wi-Fi goes down, I’d still have the work.
- To help the teacher, if there are videos/clips to be played we can do this, so the teacher doesn't have to keep changing screens – these can be made available in the Plans
- I noticed that the class do pay attention to the member of staff on the screen. On two occasions recently the teacher warned a student and moved them to a different table as they were being disruptive during the lesson.
- The students like the fact they can show their work to the teacher through the camera.
- I enjoy this way of cover and think that it is good for the students to still have contact with their teacher – especially if they are going to be out for several days.
In light of the feedback that has been received from all the staff involved in these lessons, we have made some adaptions to the T&L Guidance for Continued teaching and the Study Supervisor guidance for continued teaching documents that are available in the IL Support section of itslearning. Please pay attention to these guidance documents if you are ever in the situation of teaching into the classroom from home.
To finish, I’d like to take a few quotes from Doug Lemov’s ‘Teaching in the Online Classroom’:
Though a teacher filming in her dining room may lack slick polish …. human connection with someone who cares about you is indispensable. And engagement, accountability, and task clarity aren’t baked into videos not prepare without own students’ learning outcomes in mind.
When discussing a video of an online lesson, Lemov writes:
…it reminds us how important it is for people to feel seen. Telling someone how much you appreciate what they do in the face of challenges can help bring out their best, online as much as in person.