Challenges and Benefits of Being Back in the Classroom
After what seems like a lifetime out of the classroom, we are finally back in and have to adapt to teaching with new restrictions in place. Online teaching was eye-opening for us all and has given us teaching skills we never knew we needed. There is no doubt that the online teaching experience has changed the profession forever, and it’s clear that online learning will form a big part of the way English teaching develops over the coming years.
So, what’s it really like being back in the classroom? We’ve seen pictures on social media of socially distanced classes and everyone wearing masks, but what happens when we close the door and actually start teaching? Now that we’ve been back in the classroom for a few weeks, we have identified some of the challenges we’re facing, as well as some unexpected benefits of teaching in times of coronavirus.
Movement and interactive materials
We’re used to being able to use a variety of materials with classes and implementing them in a dynamic way in the classroom. It’s been a struggle to work out how to make use of interactive material and to restrict the students’ movement around the class as much as possible.
In many socially distanced classrooms, all of the students are now facing the front of the classroom and the teacher. This has led to the classes becoming more teacher-centred and it’s more difficult to integrate student-student interaction.
Having to change teaching at very short notice
With tests being carried out all the time, we’re finding that lots of our classes are having to change at very short notice. This may mean having to adapt to blended teaching or teaching fully online for a few weeks. It’s definitely keeping us on our teaching toes!
Lack of visual cues
We didn’t realise quite how much masks would affect the way we interact with the students in the classroom. Not only is it more difficult to understand what students are saying, and vice versa, but it’s also been hard for us not to have those common visual cues which show that students are engaged in the class. We’ll never underestimate the power of a smile again!
Cleaning and following protocols
With extra protocols to follow and a lot of cleaning in between classes, it adds unnecessary stress and waiting time to the day. Our students also have to follow these protocols at school or work and it’s fair to say that some of them are getting tired of it.
Increase in enthusiasm
After months of online learning, it’s clear that students really enjoy being back in the classroom. There has been a marked increase in motivation and enthusiasm in our classes and it has been lovely to see the students in person once again.
One aspect that was particularly difficult when teaching online was monitoring, as it was pretty much impossible to observe students as they were working. Monitoring is such an important aspect of teaching and we are very happy to be able to do this again in class.
Lack of technical issues
The success of online teaching greatly depended on the success of the technology being used. Technical issues often left us feeling frustrated and led to wasted class time and was something which was out of our control. We’re relieved not to have to rely on the strength of the WiFi to deliver our classes anymore.
Oh, our beloved board and board pens, how we’ve missed you! Whilst there were some great interactive board solutions for online teaching, nothing can quite replace the love a teacher has for their board and their ability to make the most of it in class.
Interacting with colleagues
Lastly and most importantly, lockdown was a lonely time for many teachers as we sat in our houses for hours and hours each day trying to do the very best for our students. Now we’re back at work, it’s great to be able to interact with our colleagues over a coffee or three and to share ideas and teaching tips.
Whatever teaching challenges you are facing at the moment, we hope that you make the most of being back in the classroom and enjoy teaching just as much as you always have. Good luck from everyone at London School of Languages and we hope you have a fantastic start to the school year!