How to Make Online Teaching Productive and Stress-free? 9 Remarkable Tips

In today’s unprecedented distance learning delivery modality, as teachers, we should be willing to go the extra mile and learn how to make online teaching productive and stress-free.  We should also become more efficient and adaptive to the new normal setting in education. 

The education workforce is delving into the vast opportunities and challenges online teaching and learning holds for our students.

online teaching and learning

Embracing the New Normal Setting in Education

As learning delivery has become distant due to the COVID 19 outbreak, schools all over the world take this challenge with a full embrace in the name of enriching students learning. The education of the child has to continue no matter what; hence, a teacher like me has to do my best to accommodate every learner under my care.

Student engagement is indeed one of the challenges during online learning.  Similarly, improving student’s performance is one of my greatest concerns and it calls for effective online teaching practices. Bringing up the rear, successful online teaching means increasing a student’s performance.

Today, I will share with you incredible tips on making online teaching productive and stress-free. I’m glad that you’re here with me today so we can collaborate and make the most of this very sought after distance learning delivery modality.

How to Make Online Teaching Productive and Stress-free? 9 Remarkable Tips

1. Prepare an appropriate course structure and extra materials or activities.

Just like any learning modalities, online teaching and learning need the right preparations in order to provide students with the best learning experiences. It is therefore vital to pay attention to ‘what to teach’ first and foremost. I know that the planning and designing of online courses and interactive teaching materials take significant time and necessary prepping. 

You’re being prepared isn’t just about your teaching strategies but also about what you want your students to learn. Is the content relevant? Will they enjoy learning with you? Can they be given the best opportunity to make meaning of the curriculum?

Are all the learning activities aligned to the scheduled most essential learning competencies for that quarter?  Do you prepare recorded discussions and lectures in case you can’t stream them? All these are in your hands and being prepared is the key to a successful learning encounter. 

Absolutely, the adequate preparation of course structure and supplementary learning materials and activities will help students to manifest the right mindset to love learning more despite the overwhelming situation we are in. Thus, working in advance always puts on a good show of coherent course structure. 

In facilitating virtual discussions, as the online teacher you have to ensure the active participation of your students. Certainly, your appropriate course structure and parallel learning activities will set the tone and can help your students to tune in actively. In other words, of equal importance is the curriculum content. 

2. Rethink the way you communicate with students. – Be open to flexible changes to the curriculum and schedule.

Expect twists along the way to get your point across in a timely fashion! The necessary changes shouldn’t cause hullabaloo behind screens. This is how you communicate with your students. Well, you have to rethink your ways!

Changes in the curriculum and the schedule may happen. It’s unforeseen. Nonetheless,  it shouldn’t let your online classroom shatter and cause a mare’s nest. Timely and effective communication is key. It’s paramount to online teaching. Not seeing your students physically shouldn’t be a reason why you can’t initiate constant communication with them. 

Just be direct and be reasonable. This can establish connections with your students. Provide them a sense of community and never let them feel the tentacles of isolation. 

Creating an online environment can be very overwhelming. However, with your efforts to build community with your learners, open communication through the most appropriate platforms can do a great deal. Specifically, you have to provide feedback immediately and make clear announcements to bait and switch.

I understand that online distance learning is very different from traditional face-to-face instruction but things can be done smoothly if you establish rapport with your learners from the beginning. 

As educators, we have to do more, right?

3. Maintain the high quality of your audio by removing background noises.

using noise-cancelling headphones

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

While effectively communicating with students lays the foundation of a highly-established community in online learning, your workspace or home office and tools are a determining factor if your efforts will make any sense!

On a personal thread, I pay particular attention to the specifications of my online teaching tools to be used. I have to make sure that my headphones have noise-canceling features and ensure crystal clear sound. 

Surely, a good setup of your workspace doesn’t mean to be spacious but should be conducive enough for online teaching and learning. In consequence, I consider myself to be very lucky for having a certain space at home where I can hold my online classes. It’s the spot that gives me comfort; accordingly, it keeps my spirits high and renders me good vibes so I can create meaningful lessons for my students. 

For me, distractions hold a big fat NO WAY in my classes. 

4. Create interactive assignments with longer due dates.

To retain the utmost visibility of our students while performing behind screens, we have to extend our considerations to some activities and stay flexible.  Hence, I am not saying ‘all the time’ because that will bulldoze their time management tactics as well as that of yours! Anyway, most students are conscious of deadlines but you always have to be always willing to adjust them according to your students’ needs. 

I remember when I was trying to figure out the best methods to help my students prepare their quality outputs, I came across giving reasonable extensions. But, it isn’t a reason not to set deadlines. Of course, I do. It’s important and it’s an opportunity for conveying the good rays of being responsible. 

However, for portions of interactivity and collaboration which require brainstorming and intensive information sharing, I do set considerably longer due dates. Again, it’s a matter of how you communicate it with your students.  It’s in our Google Classroom by the way. So, they always know ‘when is when’ and ‘which is which’!

5. Show your face on camera.

Be visible and your students will appreciate your virtual presence. It’s plainly saying, ‘your voice isn’t just enough’!

Show your face on camera and for me, it’s mandatory especially if you are teaching kids. They will be more excited in your class each day if they see your pleasant smile and accommodating aura. So, to be on cam while teaching is totally fine and it’s effective as far as it goes. 

It will be disheartening and dull if our students are not seeing our gestures and facial expressions and that they see only a blank box or a profile image. Our good voice quality can capture attention though, but it’s more than appealing enough if your students can see you on cam. 

6. Put extra care into the visuals of your lectures.

As I aim to engage my students in online learning, I clearly see the importance of using visuals in my lectures. They are the captivating tools that help me unearth my students’ unique capabilities.

With the different types of learning styles of your students, I know that most are visual learners. In my professional practice as a teacher, I always put a high value on using visuals because it’s one of the effective ways of getting the attention of learners. Through our visuals, we can help students extract information or learn a skill easily.

Hence, providing visual learning materials for my students is one of my top concerns in online teaching. I really make advance preparations for my presentations to meaningfully engage my students. Like in our brainstorming activities, I make use of colorful and interactive online tools like Padlet and Jamboard. My students just love and have fun posting their sticky-notes and super cool ideas.

7. Don’t overcomplicate your tool stack.

Have you updated your toolbox? Your amazing choices of online education tools should build your teaching confidence and aid in making your students gain meaningful learning experiences. It shouldn’t complicate the online teaching environment, I must say!

Remember, too many complications can be stressful. Hence, you have to avoid it.

What techy online tools and applications do you use? Are your students familiar with it? Equally important in online teaching is choosing your tool stack wisely. Make sure the app’s precept caters to what your students need and what they’re interested in.

I love scouring the web for essentials but I find collaboration and sharing of best teaching practices just like what this post highlights, really beneficial and time-saving.  Time is of the essence so I tap into the expertise and experiences of my fellows and know deeply how an application or app works!

Providing your students with engaging interactive tools should allow you to monitor your student’s progress and to provide feedback in real-time. There are tools for instantaneous assessment like Plickers, Edpuzzle, Formative, and many others. Choose the most appropriate and the most interesting.

8. Add in some fun touchpoints.

Of course, you can’t do away with students who lack interest and are very passive. There must be something that’s preventing them from being consistent and active. Well, as your superior always asks, “What have you done?”

It’s a matter of tapping valuable teaching strategies. As you create a sense of community in your online class, don’t forget to pitch in with fun and excitement. Design learning activities that will allow your students to express themselves and to be themselves.

The execution of your online discussion should be in a way that won’t make students yawn! Involve them! Don’t dominate the scene and the screen! Understanding effective teaching strategies and their unique applications can spell a big difference!

Make extra efforts to connect with your students and provide personal interactions while having some fun activities!

9.  Take breaks!

taking breaks while online teaching

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Your time management in an online class has a critical role. You have to designate time for breaks. Despite my strong inclination to present lessons continuously, I am always mindful of health and physical breaks during my classes. I am conscious of how my students are feeling and I am mindful of mine too.

For instance,  when I pause for a short break, I allow my students to socialize with their peers. In this case, they are turning on their mic and they converse with one another. I can see that they are happy and they enjoy talking with their classmates.

Taking physical breaks can help you and your students gain momentum. Moreover, short breaks can benefit your students most especially. I find it helpful to increase the student’s focus and performance.

Most importantly, taking breaks at regular intervals can reduce stress. Hence, it’s important to consider study breaks in your daily routines. Let’s face it! You and your students need it.

Just take note. There shouldn’t be longer breaks!

Conclusion

Online teaching has increased its popularity remarkably. As most schools across the world are embracing online learning modality due to the pandemic, educators have to take in amazing tips and tricks to make online teaching better and to make the most of this teaching experience.

Just don’t complicate the online learning environment, otherwise, your students will feel suffocated which eventually leads you to teacher burnout. It can all be a bit overwhelming but with adequate preparation and utmost sincerity, online teaching can become better!

Well, I just make my students enjoy and have fun learning! Interestingly, a well designed and planned online learning environment pays dividends! All those extra efforts you exerted bring advantages.

What else can you recommend to make online teaching and learning even more productive?

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