Online Teaching: A Xi'an Perspective

WRITTEN BY Hawa Manzini ・ 12 May, 2020

In this month's blog Hawa decided to do something different and reached out to some of her colleagues in Xi'an to find out what their experience has been like teaching online. All of our teachers have been teaching online for the past three months, and while our current situation is the same, we all have unique perspectives and experiences. Hawa wanted to know more about how Rowann, Angie, Nandi, and Sally handled some of the challenges of online teaching, how it compares to in-class teaching, and what has been the most memorable teaching moment for them online thus far.

We love that Hawa took this initiative and wanted to share it with our other teachers throughout China and the world. Take a look to see what our Xi'an teachers had to say about their life as online teachers:

1. What challenges did you face in the beginning and how did you overcome them?

All the teachers agreed that keeping their student's attention was the most challenging part of online teaching. Rowann and Angie overcame this through proper lesson planning, and incorporating lots of games; "I tried to make my classes interesting by using lots of props as well as creating classroom games that require energy and getting the students excited" this helps even the shier students participate and engage.
Nandi highlighted another challenge we think a lot of our teachers could resonate with, seeing themselves on webcam for the first time. "Seeing myself appearing on a webcam screen felt awkward in the beginning. Once I started relaxing and having fun it got a lot better." This does take some getting used to but once you see your students having fun you forget all about it.
Another challenge is network problems and external noise. One of Hawa's co-workers had construction going on in her apartment building which distracted her and her students during their lessons. Unfortunately, most of the time these things are out of our control, but Sally took the initiative and asked her neighbours to not drill while she was teaching, "They were cool about it though." So asking is worth a shot, right?

2. Do you prefer online or in-classroom teaching methods?

All our teachers agreed that they prefer teaching in the classroom; "online teaching gives you the illusion that it’s easy since you are home but a day will pass you by still seated on the couch." It's important to keep structure and routine in your day and to get out of your apartment at least once a day for some fresh air. Adjusting to teaching online takes some time as it is vastly different from what we've been doing up until three months ago, but Angie says "... online classes aren't too bad now, I finally have the hang of it. But I miss the kids." We think most teachers can agree that they miss seeing their students in person, but we're hoping to see them all soon!

3. Funniest moment online?

Teaching online has given us a glimpse into our students home life. Often times we see grandma cooking dinner while we teach, or we can see what our student's bedrooms are decorated like. Show and tell has become a regular thing before class starts and some students have even started to experience some major FOMO. Angie says she had one younger student take his tablet with him to the bathroom!"He was very serious about getting those trophies throughout the journey." We have to commend our students on their dedication to learning and winning!

Our teachers have taken online teaching in their stride and excelled during this time! We've had to transition from in-class teaching to online classes in a short space of time, but the skills that we've learned are going to be valuable when we go back to school. Angie echos this perspective, "I still prefer the traditional classroom because I feel it's the best learning platform, especially for younger learners, but I must admit that through online teaching I have learned new techniques which I can apply in the classroom."

Well done to all of our teachers for doing such a great job! Keep it up guys!

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