Ever since the Singapore government mandated for all tuition and enrichment centers to close in the fight against Covid-19 outbreak, tutors in Singapore were forced to adopt online tutoring in a hurry.
In the past few days, I have been hearing many war stories from fellow tutors. Some are doing 7 to 8 hours back to back online lessons. A friend of mine has not done online tutoring before, and felt drained after 4 hours. She has regularly managed 8 hours classroom teaching, but online teaching is tougher.
I have been doing one-to-one online tutoring for 4 years, and this year I have started small group online lessons right before Covid19 hits the world. I have some tips to offer, hopefully it will help tutors to cope with the strain of online tutoring.
1) You don’t have to keep talking all the time. It is ok to have silence during lesson. Sometimes when I need time to search for some files or some resources DURING lesson, I have learnt to communicate to my students that. “Hey everyone, I am going to mute myself for 5 minutes, to search for something. Do this sum while I am away.” This works well.
2) You can take breaks. Your students can take breaks. I sometimes tell my student, give me a minute while I run to my kitchen to get some coffee. They are fine with that.
3) If your lesson is 1.5 hours long, have a short time out in the middle. Staring into screens is tiring for your eyes AND your whole upper body. If you need to write on tablet, that is even more strain. Have a time out after 45 mins or so. Stretch. Also, encourage your students to stretch!
4) If you want to rest your throat, you can have a change of pace. Type out your message, or write them BIG on your onscreen whiteboard. Use fanciful colors. Use animations if you know how. Get the kids to read out what you type. They will love it. My point is, you don’t always have to TALK.
5) If you have teaching videos that is very short (like 2 minutes), you can play it in class. Take that time to lean back and catch a breath.
6) If you sense that everyone is tired, play tic-tac-toe with your kids. Or get them to play against one another. Play something. Fun is part of the DNA of online learning. The kids will love it and they will appreciate it.
7) Get a BIGGER second monitor. It will be so much easier to work with bigger and more screen, because you won’t try to squint your eyes.
8) Get a proper webcam like Logitech ones. Laptop webcam are functional, but they usually have a funny angle that forces you to hunch forward to squeeze into the camera zone. Also, a proper webcam makes you look better too!If you have any other ideas to relieve the strain of online tutoring, do share in the comments.
9) Play some soft music in the background. If you teach for hours at one go, it may be a good idea to play some music that you like with a Spotify app. If you use an earphone or headphone for your lessons (which is a recommended practice anyway), your students won’t hear the music. It helps to calm the nerve when your online class gets rowdy, and fill the silence when you instruct your students to work on their own.
If you have any other ideas to relieve the strain of online tutoring, do share in the comments.