Virtual teaching or not, there are many ways that the ‘live lessons’ of the past month have been no different to normal teaching. So, as a continuation of my last post, here are 3 ways that virtual teaching and ‘real life’ teaching are the same. 

1. Students still ask a lot of questions

In normal school, some students, especially Year 7, do ask a lot of questions each lesson. As teachers, we are pretty used to the barrage of questions from students. But add in this new and confusing way of working and the questions really do come thick and fast every lesson. Of course I completely understand that it is my job to help students understand concepts and to educate, and I love to do that and I will more than happily go over content several times in different ways to help them grasp what I am teaching, but it’s all the other questions which can make patience wear a little thin. 

After a week of answering questions such as ‘Where is the doc?’, ‘Where is that question?’, ‘Are we going to have a break today?’, ‘When’s lunch?’, ‘Are we meant to write this down?’,  ‘What should I do now?’, ‘Where are the slides?’, ‘Where’s the work?’, ‘What are we meant to be doing?’, ‘Can I go to the toilet?’ (yes they still ask this when they’re in their own homes),  ‘I just joined. What are we doing?’, ‘Miss I have a nosebleed. Can I go and tell my Mum?’ and finally: ‘Can I go and clean my chickens while I wait?’, it’s no surprise that we are exhausted by the time it gets to 3pm on a Friday.

2. Teaching is still unpredictable 

One of my favourite things about teaching is that no two days are the same. This is still true for virtual teaching, maybe even more so as it relies on technology working. In one lesson a couple of weeks ago, my webcam had stopped working right at the start of a lesson and I realised that I wasn’t able to share my slides either. Luckily, my lesson was saved by the IT technician who brought me a replacement webcam and a lovely Year 7 who shared her screen with the slides for me, allowing me to teach as normal, with the addition of me getting to use a phrase that’s so 2020/21: “Can I have the next slide please?”.

Even when the technology is on my side, I never know quite how the lesson will go. Will that activity work? Are the students going to understand? What questions will I be asked today? Is anyone going to answer my questions? Will anyone unmute themselves or turn their cameras on? Will it be another lesson of me talking a lot to fill the awkward silences and pretending like I am on my own radio show? Every lesson is a mystery.

3. Students still make me laugh

Due to this unpredictability of teaching, I never know what the students are going to come out with and they do genuinely make me laugh sometimes. 

In a recent Year 9 lesson about digestion, I showed them a video of a teacher modelling the digestive system called ‘making poo’, where she models the role of the mouth, stomach, small and large intestines in digestion using some food and other props, resulting in some ‘poo’ being made which is actually just broken up food that has gone through a series of stages. The video really isn’t that bad, but Year 9’s reaction to this video was so dramatic (and I thought I was dramatic), I couldn’t help but laugh. Here are some of their messages they were typing in the chat while watching:

“I have been emotionally scarred from that video”

“I am unsettled”

“Why was she smiling so much”

“I am very disturbed now”

“That was awful”

“Why would you do this to us Miss”

“I had to cover my screen at some points”

“We are at a very vulnerable age”

Another thing that made me laugh recently was when I was showing this video clip to Year 7 from ‘The Curiosity Show’, which is clearly a very old clip.

Before they watched it, I said that I knew it was very old but wasn’t sure which year it was from exactly. I later looked up that the show was filmed between 1972 to 1990 so the clip was from somewhere around that time. A few of them then said in the chat that it was from 2008, because this is when it was posted on YouTube. I couldn’t help but laugh at their concept of time. Of course, they were born in 2009/2010 so to them, 2008 is a very long time ago but it was funny that they genuinely thought that this clearly very retro TV clip was only filmed 13 years ago.

And so concludes the two part blog post about the similarities and differences between virtual and real life teaching. Like all teachers, I’m very much looking forward to having students back in the classroom, so that I can teach to a room of faces again rather than a screen of icons. 

For now though, time for me to go afk (away from keyboard- learnt that from a Year 7), much like a lot of students seem to conveniently be afk the minute I ask them a question or do any work. Happy Saturday!

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