Updated: Jul 23, 2020
For many teachers, getting started with online teaching can be quite an adjustment, most notably for teachers who have traditionally taught English face to face. One of the most challenging aspects can be knowing what equipment is needed to get set up and what props can be used over an online setting to enhance the lessons. So let's take a look at some useful tools that can help to make your online teaching experience more professional.
In my blog, Five Must-Know Tips For Online Teachers, I talk about the importance of your 'classroom' setup, addressing issues such as lighting, sound quality, and camera angles. All essential points that can significantly enhance the impression you leave on your students.
Adjustable Laptop Stand
A vital part of teaching in a traditional classroom-based setting is the teacher's ability to make eye contact with their students. It is through eye contact that we connect and let students know that they have our attention and focus. It becomes even more critical when teaching online, where it is much harder to make that same connection without face to face interaction. If using a laptop as your primary online teaching tool, then you need the ability to adjust the height of your camera to eye level so that you appear more natural on camera and can make 'eye contact' with your students. This adjustable laptop stand by HUANUO does the trick nicely, allowing you to adjust the position of your laptop to a comfortable eye level, whether standing or sitting.
Lighting is also essential; without proper lighting, your students won't be able to see you or any props that you are using during class. If you can set up your laptop near a window, then the natural sunlight can suffice. However, if you're teaching during the later hours of the day or the winter months, then it is worth investing in a ring light. A ring light, such as this one from Ningbo, is simple to use, easily adjustable, and affordable, guaranteeing good lighting for every class.
Another vital aspect of the set up is sound quality. Lessons with poor audio can lead to misunderstandings, and you can lose bookings if the quality isn't high enough. Using a headset with a fixed microphone and stable output and input will significantly enhance your lessons and leave a better impression on your students. It is worth the investment!
I recommend choosing a noise-canceling headset and these don't need to break the bank. This headset by Beebong is affordable and has noise canceling. But do your research. If you are going to wear a headset for hours each day, you need one that will be comfortable for your specific needs.
Having the right props to make your class interactive and appealing to young learners is essential. But when first getting started, it can be tricky to know what props will be beneficial. So here are a few essentials to help get you started.
The first must-have tool for all online teachers is a magnetic dry-erase board. A dry-erase board is used for many different activities and games or even to help illustrate critical points during class. A magnetic dry-erase board gives you flexibility as you can use magnetic letters and numbers or even magnetic flashcards during your lesson. A double-sided foldable dry-erase board is an excellent choice for those not wanting to drill any new holes in the wall.
Puppets are another fantastic tool for introducing new vocabulary or for encouraging small dialogues with students. They are visually appealing and make the lesson fun and interactive. Having a selection of puppets, such as this puppet selection from Joyin Inc that you can interchange throughout the lesson helps to keep students' attention and make the class more interesting.
Mr. Potato Head
Mr. Potato Head Silly Suitcase Parts & Pieces is an excellent tool for teaching body parts, but it can also be a useful tool for classroom management. If you want to change things up from using a simple star or point reward system, you can reward students with a Mr. Potato Head body part. If students manage to build a full Mr. Potato Head by the end of the lesson, then they get to sing their favorite song as a reward.
Of course, flashcards are essential. Giving students a visual representation of new words helps them to understand the meaning of new vocabulary faster. But, the flashcards you use also leave an impression on both your students and their. parents, and it is worth investing some time or money into a matching set.
If you would prefer to save time on prep work, you can find some professional, ready to print flashcards on the Mooncake English store.
What Else Do You Need?
These essentials will help bring your online teaching to a more professional level. But if you want to take things a step further, you can enhance your student's online learning experience by introducing a green screen into your daily lessons. Setting up your home green screen is not as difficult as you might think. If you want to learn more, then check out this blog on how to set up your home green screen for online teachers.
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