Once you’ve clearly communicated expectations and outcomes for your live virtual teaching session with students and/or families, you’ve set up your live teaching session, and you’ve practiced, it is time to deliver.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Creating relational capacity and making connections with students and/or families is very important, especially during your first sessions. In addition to increasing student learning, think about the wonderful connection and opportunity that you are providing for your students and/or families.
Before a Session
- Get comfortable seeing yourself on screen. This is an opportunity to practice growth mindset.
- Think about ways to use breakout groups/rooms and how to monitor and support small-group discussions while in a virtual environment. For example, you can provide participants with sentence stems, such as:
- A connection that I made was…
- My new learning for today was…
- If you are meeting with a large number of people, consider having a co-presenter or two.
- Be aware of session settings. Can participants use public and private chat features? Can participants share their screen? Can random people join your session easily?
- Think about wearing solid colors and having a backdrop that is not going to distract participants.
- Have water and tissues near you.
- Set norms to avoid distractions, such as checking email, chatting off topic, etc. Decide on how these norms will be communicated and practiced.
- Create guidelines around participation in conversation—both in video conversation and in chat conversation—and be prepared to share them prior to and during your session.
- Will you be recording the session? If you are, make sure that people know this and that you have the appropriate permissions.
Starting a Session
- Consider having directions on a document of some type visible when people enter the virtual environment. Participants will enter at different times, and it could be awkward if they don’t know what to do.
- Ask everyone to have their camera on at the start of the session (if this is an expectation) so that time isn’t wasted getting everyone ready.
- Speak slowly and clearly so that others can follow along.
- Ask participants to close all of their browsers/tabs except for the live virtual meeting.
- If someone has a weak internet signal, have them call in for the audio from their phone.
- Have participants remain muted unless they are speaking. Have participants practice finding and using the mute button.
- Show participants how to use features that you want them to use during the session and let them practice (especially during the first session).
- Provide a digital space—one that participants are able to easily access at all times—where they can post any questions they may have. Clearly communicate where this designated space is located and how to use it.
During a Session
- Speak slowly and clearly, so students can easily follow along.
- Let participants know what you are doing if you have to make adjustments, troubleshoot, switch screens, etc. Otherwise, dead airtime can disengage participants and/or cause confusion.
- Have participants interact in some way every 3 to 5 minutes. Beyond just speaking, participants can use the chat, share a reaction, answer a survey, go into a breakout room to engage in a small-group discussion, etc. Whatever method you use, make sure to clearly communicate expectations.
- Give wait time, even if it feels awkward (you can always play some soft music in the background).
- If cameras are being used, be aware of nonverbal feedback and body language.
- Consistently check to make sure that all participants are engaged in the live virtual learning session in some way.
Closing a Session
- Make sure to allow time to wrap up the session and provide clear next steps.
- End the recording (if there is one), title it, and save it in a place where you can easily access later.