Preparing to teach online can be a daunting concept, even for experienced teachers. Some strategies that work well in an in-person class may not be as well suited for a virtual classroom. Many of the tech requirements for online teaching may not be things teachers accustomed to teaching in a physical classroom have ever considered before. Online instruction doesn’t have to be a negative experience, though, and with the right preparation, students and teachers can all have an engaging and productive class. An online teaching checklist can help ensure that you are prepared and ready to have a great school year. 

Online Teaching Checklist Photo

1.    Ensure that you have proper lighting

When putting together your workspace, you should make sure that you have adequate lighting that clearly shows your face and doesn’t cause issues with any green screen technology you may be using.

2.    Familiarize yourself with all relevant technology

Different institutions may use different programs. Make sure you are comfortable with the conferencing and other software you will be using. Familiarizing yourself with this before classes start will help to ensure that technology will not be a barrier to assisting your students. Now is also the time to confirm that all programs you will be using interface with each other correctly. Be prepared to explain the technology to your students and their parents as well.  

3.    Assemble your background or green screen

Students will be spending a lot of time looking at the area behind you, so make sure it is visually appealing and conveys the message you want to send. Some teachers may want to use green screens, but physical backgrounds can be great too. Putting interesting and relevant images and props behind you can help increase students’ interest and curiosity in the class material.  

4.    Organize and prepare any props you plan to use

Props can be particularly useful when teaching in an online environment and can help to hold students’ interest during classes. 

5.    Consider how content will translate from the brick-and-mortar classroom to a virtual environment

Teaching online isn’t as different from teaching in person as people may think. Many activities that work well in physical classrooms can be adapted for a virtual environment. Do consider how this can best be done, though, as it is vital to make sure you “design for an online medium.”1 As Purdue University notes, online students need to be actively engaging with the content and activities and not just passively watching.2 

6.    Prepare to welcome students in a virtual environment

A great first day of school is possible in an online environment. Consider how you want to introduce yourself and your classroom to the students and help them get accustomed to your class’s routines and rules. 

7.    Record a practice run and then watch to improve your teaching skills

This is the time to catch any minor issues. Is an open blind causing problems with the lighting? Is your green screen glitchy? Do you seem less energetic than you hoped? Many teachers find that energy levels don’t translate as expected online, and you may need to up your enthusiasm when teaching virtually.3 Are you talking too fast? Too slow? Are you fumbling for props and other teaching tools? Are there any gestures you could be using to emphasize your points and keep students engaged? This is the time to make sure you convey confidence and enthusiasm and present yourself and your classroom in the best possible light.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

It can be overwhelming to prepare to teach in a new format. If you are struggling, you may consider contacting your administrators or other teachers in your school for assistance. A variety of teacher training programs have been developed to ensure teachers are comfortable with the technology and your school likely has a variety of staff who can assist you with any specific issues you are having as you work through the online teaching checklist. For example, ALO7 has a vast amount of training videos available in the tutor portal’s resources section and many online teaching examples on the ALO7 YouTube channel. 

9.    Consider the positives of teaching online

As Purdue University notes, there are advantages to teaching online. You can watch your classes’ recordings to see what is and isn’t working and see how students engage with the material. It can also allow for creative projects and types of engagements that might not be possible in an in-person class.4 

10. Practice self-care to avoid burnout when teaching online

Especially when teaching online, it is important to take note of your total daily screen time and make adjustments when necessary. Creating common sense goals like getting enough sleep and exercising can go a long way in helping you to maintain your physical and mental health when spending long hours teaching in front of a computer. And, make sure to leave time to spend with family and friends, even if it is only in a virtual space.

While teaching online can be intimidating, and many people may have had negative experiences with online learning in the past, that doesn’t mean virtual instruction can’t be an excellent experience for both teachers and students. It simply requires some different techniques and preparation compared to in-person classes. While it may seem overwhelming, working through the online teaching checklist will help to ensure you are ready to welcome your students. With the right preparation, you can make sure that you and your students have a meaningful and engaging school year. 

Citations for Online Teaching Checklist for Success:
1 Burns, M. (2020, May 26). Getting Ready to Teach Next Year. Retrieved September 04, 2020, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/getting-ready-teach-next-year
2, 4 Castellanos Reyes, D., Richardson, J. C., & Fiock, H. (2018). Readiness to Teach Online. Retrieved September 04, 2020, from https://www.purdue.edu/innovativelearning/supporting-instruction/portal/files/17_Readiness_to_Teach_Online.pdf
3 Kissel, S. (2020). Teaching online: A checklist. Retrieved September 04, 2020, from https://www.ellucian.com/insights/teaching-online-checklist

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