A Term Online: Teaching Diary (#4)

If you read my previous post/entry you’ll know I was really happy with yesterday’s lesson. Well, I taught the very same lesson to another section today and it wasn’t as good. I’m not bothered; only vaguely disappointed. But mainly I’m paying attention to how some of the differences can help me understand the contrasting group dynamics and characters of the two 41-member cohorts and what I should keep in mind to keep the second one more on pace with the first. Mainly I think they just need more (maybe a lot more) explicit signposting and even clearer task instruction prompts and models.

Okay, so some reflecting here: am I truly comfortable teaching online via Zoom?

Physically, not always. I notice that my laptop tends to slide forward on my desk and I end up reaching further than I should. This bends me over my desk a bit as I reach. I need to put something solid as a backstop so I stay more upright all the time.

Mentally, I think more so. I’m generally ‘very online’, for better or for worse. I like the dynamic of so many text volleys, the multi-media, the chance for my ADHD brain to do its level best in large swaths of quiet activity and far less physical awkwardness interfering.

Here’s something specific that I’ve recently become far more comfortable with: the on-board Zoom whiteboard. I realized last week that I still didn’t REALLY know my way around its toolbar features, so I spend some time with it – literally practicing ‘reps’ writing and erasing things quickly, moving things around and then changing the color of something, all kinds of combinations of things at speed. Left, right, duck, uppercut, cross the body!, dance, float like butterfly, insert arrow, screenshot, sting like a bee! It’s actually not all that bad, the whiteboard in Zoom. I would not have said this a week or so ago.

Following on from something I wrote in entry #3, one thing I’m happy with is the quality of my task model. It’s a video. A “how to” tutorial type thing. The kind of thing all over YouTube. And specifically what I like most about what I’m doing is simple: I made it. I can say to my students “this is what you’re going to do; here’s my example” and the ‘my’ there is really true. I did the thing, from scratch, first. Why do I like this? A few reasons (and if you like it too and have different reasons why, please do share those reasons why in the comments below!):

Yes, it’s relatively time consuming (it took me about 2.5 hours to shoot and edit my video). But it seems like a very worthwhile use of time for the above reasons and surely more than those.

I guess I also like the task because it feels..um…what do they call it? “21st century”. Everyone’s a “YouTuber” these days aren’t they?! (Actually only one out of 150 students confirmed this in my survey about their YouTube usage). ;P DOH?!

Oh and here’s a somewhat random note: I liked that the opportunity to teach “soi dog” to this class arose this morning. They had no idea this is how foreign residents and visitors to Thailand refer to the stray dogs all over this country. They were quite interested in this…what do you call it? A word that incorporates two language into a single lexical unit? And I sent them this link to both consolidate the thing they learned and hey! be a good doggo-lovin’ citizen: https://www.soidog.org/.

I think that’s gonna be it for today. I have another private lesson on Zoom this evening that I’ve not feeling fully prepared for. There’s also the issue of dinner. And traffic on the way home. Twas ever thus!

Um, to wrap up, Sarah P tweeted this:

So, this is for you, Sarah! 😀 They were full of…ahhh…bright ideas:

Oh! I should add one more note to this entry. By happenstance, shortly after this lesson ended I caught most of a Rod Ellis (TBLT guru, him) webinar hosted by another Thai uni. Because I’m thinking about TBLT(ishness) more than usual right now this was kinda cool. And it made me feel good, again, about my task selection in this class here and indeed my choice to use some sort of TBLTish approach for this term online.

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