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Are you an ALO7 teacher looking for a challenge? The educational landscape has changed in revolutionary ways over the past thirty years, and even more so in the past six months. ALO7 works fervently on a consistent basis to provide education solutions for young ESL learners in today’s fast-changing world. ALO7 Blended Classroom (ABC) classes are innovative one-to-many courses that meet the demands of Chinese parents and schools looking for high-quality English classes that fit into their budget. If you miss brick and mortar classrooms but love the flexibility and innovation of online teaching, ALO7 Blended Classroom classes may be just right for you!

Blended Classroom Teacher Annette
Here I am greeting my students and onsite teaching assistant.

What exactly are ABC classes?

ABC classes are one-to-many classes that are broadcast from the online teacher’s home into a brick-and-mortar classroom in China. The teacher conducts the lesson using a green screen, video feed, and a computer with two monitors. One monitor is used to view the courseware while the other monitor is used to see the students in the classroom. 

Typically, there are five to 15 students in one class and a teacher’s aide to assist the online teacher. The classroom is designed with students seated at shared desks or near each other to make it easy for the ALO7 teacher to view them. Schools participating in ABC classes can be public or private enrichment schools, so the hours of these classes vary and can be during the day into the early evening hours. And, the ages of the students can range from elementary to secondary school-aged students.

ABC Classroom classes differ in presentation from ALO7’s usual 1-to-3 classes. In 1-to-3 classes, ALO7 tutors typically have a video feed that is separate from the courseware, and only teach up to 3 or 4 students at a time per session. In ABC classes, a tutor’s ABC video is projected onto the courseware so that a tutor can interact with the courseware. This method is similar to how a meteorologist interacts with the video projection during a weather forecast. 

What are the technical requirements for teaching ABC classes?

To be considered a candidate to teach these classes, you must meet the following technical requirements:

  • 3.0GHz CPU
  • 8GB of RAM
  • Dual monitors
  • Standing room

I have experience teaching ABC classes and have found a few things that help them run smoothly. First, it’s helpful to make your cursor display as large as possible. Since you have to stand at least five feet away from your monitor, sometimes it can make it difficult to see where your cursor is from this distance. Save time by making your cursor large so you can quickly identify where it is.

Second, it is required that you wear a headset while teaching these classes just as you would a regular 1-to-3 model. I recommend setting your volume to the highest setting. I can set my volume level lower during regular 1-to-3 classes, but this is not as helpful for ABC classes. Sometimes, the microphones used in the classrooms for ABC classes are set at a low volume making it challenging to hear your students or teaching assistant respond if your sound level is too low. 

There are also some preparations for teaching that can help you deliver successful ABC classes. I suggest reviewing the courseware beforehand and thinking of one interactive activity that uses TPR based on the vocabulary and a prop that students can identify or count as a group. 

For example, when it comes to new words, I like to use actions showing drawing motions with just my hand, or using a large paintbrush to distinguish between painting and drawing. When I use related body language to help convey the new words, I noticed students promptly following with body language to help incorporate the new words into their full knowledge base.

I bring props into the classroom regularly with ABC classes as well. For a class that focused on drawing, I incorporated using crayons and a drawing pad in class, drawing an orange circle and asked students about the shape and color of the picture. For another class, I used potato chips as props and asked students to count them with me as a group. You are limited in ABC classes in regards to getting to know students individually, but students are energized as a group for activities that incorporate props, games, and TPR.

ALO7 Teacher Mike Henry has been teaching ABC Classes for a few weeks and found there to be some learning curves when adapting to this format: “It can be challenging if you have gotten used to teaching just 3-4 students at a time, each with their own camera feed. You have to come up with new techniques to keep students engaged to be able to give a larger group a chance to speak in the class.” 

Mike went on to explain that the challenge is not without benefits and personal fulfillment for teachers: “All of the different formats which ALO7 offers can certainly be a challenge, but I feel that the new experiences help you to develop as an online tutor and you can apply new techniques learned in one format or style of class to another. It also helps to keep you on your toes,” He explained. “The most rewarding thing about ABC classes is having the ability to give even more students the ability to speak with a native speaker and to be able to practice what they have been learning. It is great to see their smiling faces and to share their excitement. The class format is very immersive, making you feel as if you have dived right into the courseware. I can see huge potential with these styles of classes for the future. so it is great to be part of this new and exciting opportunity.”

Personally, I enjoy getting to have closer to a brick and mortar teaching experience. It reminds me of my first teaching experience as a community college instructor. Even though it’s an internet-based classroom, you can still feel the classroom’s shared energy as the students learn together simultaneously. I also enjoy the opportunity of getting to collaborate with the China-based English teacher in the classroom. This cross-cultural collaboration teaches students about the value of mutual respect and cooperation between people of different nationalities. I already feel joy being able to connect with even just one or two students in the 1-to-3 student model, so having up to eight students in a class adds to the joy and energy exponentially. The positive energy shared between the teaching assistants, the students, and I is infectious!

In light of the new world we live in, ALO7 Academic Trainer Jon Cook feels the fulfillment of a deep purpose as a teacher of ABC style classes as well: “For me, the most fun and rewarding part of the ABC Classroom classes are just the marvel from the students and teachers. This is brand new technology; often, people think we are pre-recorded until we interact directly with them. Students just love the feeling of having a teacher in the classroom with them. Also, as we perfect the technology, we have a real chance to make a big impact on the lives of many students. Right now, smaller communities and less prosperous areas are underserved in education, particularly English education. With this technology, we can remote into small communities that otherwise would never be exposed to native English. That is powerful to me.”

Tutors that take on the challenge of ABC classes have the opportunity to improve their teaching skills and learn new technical skills that will prepare them for the new world of teaching in 2020 and beyond. ABC classes may also help tutors experience fulfillment by bringing English education to Chinese students who may not have a chance to improve their English skills otherwise. If you feel you are ready for the challenge, what is holding you back? ALO7 needs ambitious teachers like yourself to bring your enthusiasm and skills to ABC classrooms! 

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