Kate Maven has been teaching English to immigrants for over 30 years, but never in the way she is doing now. Thriving on face-to-face interaction and the connections she builds with her students, she has had to make a big adjustment with her teaching methods in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, teaching her Advanced and Basic English classes entirely online.
Though having experience with video conferencing in her personal life, Kate had no experience in using it on an educational level, similar to many instructors in the transition to remote service delivery during the current pandemic. So she put her self-proclaimed ‘computer geek’ status into action “I signed up for beginner training webinars for multiple platforms and downloaded handouts on the main features of each. As a visual-kinesthetic learner, I need to see it, read it, and then do it.” She also learned by the use of trial and error, unafraid to make mistakes along the way.
“I think everyone has found the transition to working virtually a challenge,” Kate says. “Previously having done a certificate course on “Designing & Developing an Online Course” has worked to my advantage, but of course the reality of putting that theory into practice has been quite different.”
Kate has now been instructing her classes over the video conferencing software Zoom, and sending her students assignments through Google Classroom. “I had a really good buy-in from my students. While for some it is difficult to find the time to attend the class Zoom sessions, they are still able to do the homework I assign online in our Google Classroom page.”
Knowing the challenges she faced when moving her courses from the classroom to online, Kate wanted to share her knowledge with others and is now offering workshops to her Teachers of English as a Second Language (TESL) colleagues. “After all the help experienced teachers offered me when I first started teaching, I am happy to give back and offer my support to all my TESL colleagues who are struggling to adapt to working online,” says Kate.
Some of the things Kate will be going over in her workshop is sharing audio, switching to shared screens, adjusting settings, sharing files and ensuring there are no ‘lurkers’ attending their video call.
“In this difficult time, we are all doing the best that we can. It inspires me every day to see the effort people have been making to keep in touch and help one another.”