business person working from home

School’s Out – Not!

Photo credit: Freepik / For illustrative purposes.

School is out, at least physically, for the kids and so it is also for teachers (to differing degrees). Normally this brings big smiles to the faces of students and teachers alike when it’s a genuine holiday, and I freely confess to enjoying a lazy day on Monday, but in these days the smiles have quickly faded from many faces. Kids still have to learn, teachers still have to teach and stressed out parents are having to take on more of the burden of helping their kids.

Not all doom and gloom

For language teachers, particularly freelancers, the horrifying prospect of losing all their clients and income looms large. Yet it is not all doom and gloom. While online teaching has been around for a long time, it is steadily becoming very sophisticated and of course, incredibly accessible and definitely seems set for a boom.

As far as I am aware, all, or the majority, of language schools in Brno have reacted quickly to make their individual, group and company courses available on whichever online platform they prefer. Resulting in a steep learning curve for many teachers, who may be very familiar with tech for fun and use in a face-to-face classroom environment but not for online lessons, this is however, an opportunity for us to pick up new skills and experience something new. Perhaps also a taste of the future for teaching.

Despite enjoying my lazy day on Monday, it didn’t take long for my brain to turn to the financial repercussions. How will I pay the rent, meet health insurance and social payments and pay for the shopping? Although, admittedly the food is not an issue since, no matter how hard I try, I never quite manage to get my freezer empty enough to defrost it. Seriously, though, how is it manageable?

The only solution, unless you happen to be one of those fabled teachers who has a large bank account, is to engage fully with online teaching. There are plenty of online articles about teaching online and loads of advice on how to go about it as well as some horror and entertaining, stories about what can go wrong. Then again, why teach if there isn’t the possibility that sometimes, things just don’t go quite according to plan.

Getting it right

To help mitigate the potential pitfalls there are some basic steps to take and watch out for when online.

Check your tech – it may seem obvious but is your internet connection strong and reliable? Does you pc, and the students’, have the relevant software and hardware?

Get a friend, colleague or partner to try out the tech with you beforehand to check the above.

Remember, that although you are at home, you are still at work. Dress as you would in a classroom (although I have known teachers who teach online in a smart shirt while only wearing underwear or their pyjama bottoms as they judiciously frame what the camera can see).

Make sure the dirty dishes, kids and pets are not in the frame. It may seem cute to have kids and pets running around in your own home but it’s only amusing for a short time for others.

Turn off your Facebook/Skype and any other application notifications. Do you really want your students to see pop-ups with your private information or those potentially embarrassing ads which will insist on popping up at the most inopportune moments?

Seize the moment

For the teachers among us, this is an opportunity to learn or develop new skills and perhaps gain a wider client base. For the existing students, it’s the possibility to maintain their progress and for the recalcitrant learner it is perhaps motivation to learn a new language. Even I have dragged out my, relatively untouched, Czech books

So, while things may look a little bleak at the moment, it is not all doom and gloom. You’re probably going to be spending a lot of time online anyway, so why not get off Netflix, the news channel or whatever your current addiction is, for a little time and help both yourself and the teachers.

Stay safe and healthy everyone.

Disclaimer: Opinions and views expressed in the text above are of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.

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