Challenges and solutions
I didn't check the roots of the English word 'Challenge'.
However let's look at the German word: 'Herausforderung', because it is such an obvious and clear meaning:
'Heraus' means 'coming/getting out of something/somewhere'
'Forderung' means 'demand' 'call'.
So a 'Herausforderung' or 'Challenge' is literally
'a call to get out'.
Similarly the Japanese word: 挑戦 （Cho sen)；
these characters together also have the similar meaning as 'A call to be active'.
If you have read the last posts:
you probably have noticed that my first 'action' is to look at the whole situation from a completely new perspective.
What does this mean practically?
First I try to figure out and imagine: what can I do now, that I wasn't able to do before. If we talk about classes in my classroom via virtual (zoom) classes:
Things we can do Virtually
Using virtual backgrounds.
Using the camera and 'playing' with it.
Using individual space.
Using private space.
Including family members.
Second I try to think of things everyone has at home and implement it in my classes:
Materials everyone has at home
paper or plastic cups
spoons, bottle caps, and other kitchen tools
some kind of blocks (wooden or lego...)
Third I think of fun, interactive things to do with the tool I have chosen, while reviewing and previewing the language I want to work with.
How interested are you in these activities? Let me know in the comments here or on FB if you'd like me to share more.
Time is rare even though we still have 24 hours a day, I know. But it is so rare I don't want to steal your time with articles, which are not improving your teaching or are not of any value for you.
How can I teach Writing on lIne?
this was another question/challenge lined up.
One thing may be, that my idea of 'learning writing' is pretty unique. I don't believe in tracing or copying. It has never worked for me, and my own children suffered the conservative style of cramming writing to an extend, effecting health.
So, I believe with all my heart that learning to write must be joy. 'Joyful' means something different to each student, so teaching writing is pretty individual and one-on-one.
In a normal classroom environment, with 8 students (in my case) and 60 minutes teaching time, (10 minutes for reading and writing, because speaking comes and has to come first!) there is just no way to give each kid the time it needs to write. Even if it is just a little tiny bit or word. What takes one kid 10 seconds can take another one 5 minutes or more. Checking each one and giving thumbs ups takes another 5 minutes, and nothing new has been learned yet.
These days though, I find it really easy and fun. We can cover the content they will need to write in class (on line/zoom) and then they can go ahead and write after that.
Mostly I close our zoom lesson a bit early and tell them to do their writing practice right there, and then send it in.
Then I can take my time to look at it and write encouraging comments.
Actually I have 2 classes who had not done any phonics at all when we started learning via zoom class. I decided to give it a try and since March I am doing 5-10 minutes of phonics instructions per week. They are amazing. I have never progressed this quickly and to this extend in such a short time.
So, I actually think that even if hopefully at some point we get back to normal classes, I would start a system where I can teach writing the way I do now. I just love it.
As always, let me know if you have questions.
Another challenge I was asked about:
It really surprised me to an extend, that I kept wondering!
It is NOT that I don't have students whose siblings are there, or who are swinging their pet on the lap. Again, the conclusion I got to is like in yesterday's blog:
CHANGE YOUR LENS AND VIEWPOINT!
I am happy about every family face I see, and every voice I hear in the background of class.
At one point there were parents who started talking about their taxes, so I muted the girl for a bit.
I also had a boy whose baby brother got hungry and was crying, so I muted him for a bit.
But else, every sibling, jumping around or wanting to get in front of the camera, or what so ever: I see it as a chance for communication.
I pick up on every pet, or brother or sister and ask about them. So much engaging REAL WORLD LANGUAGE.
And siblings and pets can be used to teach any pattern of grammar or structure of language we want.
Do you like your dog, brother, sister.
How old is?
What is ...name?
When is his birthday.
Does he like bananas?
What does he want to be?
Can she play the piano.
You get it, I can go on endlessly. You can review and Pre view any kind of language you want right on the spot as soon as a sibling or pet or anything else pops up on the screen.
kids who seem to have a hard time concentrating on the screen.
Let's try NOT to have them concentrate on the screen.
Please, the younger the kids, the less we should use the whiteboard (although I LOVE this feature)
the less we even should screenshare; I know, there is so much great stuff, powerpoints, etc etc. but no! Let's get the kids away from the screen.
No lie here, but every week I start getting sore muscles on Thursday night (my first day of teaching is Tuesday by the way). On Friday my body hurts so badly that I find it hard to walk up the stairs.
We are moving, and having so many amazing brainbreaks in our lessons.
These are mostly things I could not do in our normal classes, because there is not enough space to move in my room here.
Also the introduction of language and review should be combined with lots of movement.
When writing the question I have been thinking how to phrase it:
"What are your challenges with online teaching?"
I try to avoid using this expression, because I don't think I am 'Online teaching'.
I also do 'Online Teaching', and I think there is a huge difference between this and 'Teaching Online'.
If you are not sure what I am talking about here, let me know and I will maybe write another article on this.
However - time is sooo limited- I try to keep it as relevant as possible.
And I do apologize that I have been making myself so rare! It indeed is a busy time, and I am grateful for it while at the same time I am sad, that I just cannot share more.
Before going into strategies, I have been asking about
Some of the answers I got, expressed just what I am facing, too.
'It is harder to make it funny and get everyone laughing.'
'It is hard to know what the kids see or hear'
Interestingly many of the challenges shared were things that surprised me and I have been wondering why.
'Making sure parents don't tell kids the answer'
'Class Management>>siblings intruding, playing with pets, no concentration focus on the camera'
'Teaching writing virtually'
Why am I so surprised? Because these three are the things I am enjoying most of these virtual classes.
Change your lens and viewpoint!
Tip for No.1:
1.1.Change your viewpoint! What are the good points of this?
Parents are finally involved. Isn't this what we always wanted? Parents experience first hand HOW our lessons are and what is important. They become learners, too.
Kids feel secure and save. This is another way to become confident. Learning to swim is not always and only about jumping into the zone where your feet don't have any ground.
1.2. Make the questions interesting, engaging and out-of-the box.
If we ask 'textbook style questions' parents and students of course will get the impression that it needs to be a textbook style answer:
How are you>I am ....
When is your birthday?>>It is ...
Where are you from? >>>I'm from ...
These are drills, and I avoid them all together to teach content. As a drill, I use them ONLY in time raced warm ups. The stop watch (or what so ever to race against) will not give the time to whisper answers.
Instead of drilled Q and As I create questions that are relevant, and can be answered in different ways.
1.3 Don't ask too many questions at all!
I really do not ask questions most of the time. I find this time of teaching online ideal to give input input input, in so many engaging and fun ways.
Where do I get the output?
In these two months, my students have grown and improved amazingly. Pronunciation, reading ability, writings.
With most of my classes I would say, they learned as much in two month as it would usually have taken us half a year.
What I enjoy Most: SEeing (and hearing) the Dads
In Japan it was Golden Week, meaning everyone was off, unrelated to the 'Stay Home Call'.
I decided to do lessons as normally, because I saw it as a good chance for everyone involved.
I am happy I did:
I had dads instead of moms next to their kids, I had dads dancing and jumping, I had dads running around the house to find things for a 'out of the blue treasure hunt', I had dads screaming 'WELL DONE' and 'AMAZING' in the back of the room, cheering their kids.
Sorry, I will need to write another post for the other points, as this one got so long~anyway, I really believe it will help you a lot if you just change your point of view.
If you still have questions on this let me know; I will try to find the time to answer.