sábado, 14 de mayo de 2016

I am finally teaching online!

And the day comes eventually when your dreams come true.   Back in 2012 when I started exploring the affordances of the web, when I didn´t even know how to spell "Prezi" or "Edmodo" I made an amazing discovery.  I heard that there were teachers who where teaching online and I just fell in love with the idea whereas at the same time lots of questions arouse regarding the changes that this new modality of teaching implied.  With time and with the help of many of my online mentors I started to learn how teachers could resort to different tech tools to make an online class possible.  On my journey of discovery I volunteered to teach, I organised online meetups, I regularly met online with my mentors and I got the chance to hear about and play with many web sites and tools I found interesting.
Many times I offered my prospective students, who are always busy people, to not leave their houses and have the class online instead of having to come to my office. For some reason they preferred to take the face to face class.
Last week I was contacted by my coordinator who needed a substitute teacher for a city that is located 200 kilometres away from home and is worldwide famous for being the homebirth of Lionel Messi.  I was obviously thrilled at the chance to finally be an online teacher for the first time in my life.  I must say that I loved it.  I should also mention that I felt quite nervous before the class in spite of my over 20 years of teaching experience.  My strategy to fight off fear was preparation.  I wanted to make sure I was "over-ready" for the class.  I made contact with my students via email to make sure they did the necessary arrangements before the class such as contacting me on Skype and making sure they have downloaded Skype properly.  The online way is filled with unexpected stones such as surprise power outages, or your neighbour chopping tall tree right next to the place where your pc is located and playing dangerously with the telephone lines.  So, apart from dealing with these sources of extra stress an online teacher has to make sure they establish a good relationship with the students asap.  A substitute online teacher does not have much time for this and given that for my students it was the first time ever using skype I had to put extra attention to making them feel comfortable to allow learning to happen.  Luckily the students were extra nice and willing to participate, so the class went on normally and by the end of the clas I felt as if I´d known them for ages.
As I said, having everything set before the class, eg the material, the extra grammar, the windows open and ready to be shared made me feel in control.  Today, however as I am writing this blog post I have come to realize that there was another important factor that added to my confidence.  I was part of a global online community of coleagues who were willing to help me test the screen sharing feature from 3 different continents at a short notice before my class was scheduled.  My confidence is based on my knowledge of the tools, the pedagogy and the content of what I have to teach, but also on the knowledge that I have several communities of practice that have helped me shape the teacher I am today.  And I can´t but feel grateful and lucky for this.
I am looking forward to my future online lessons. I feel lucky to be part of several online communities where sharing best practices is an everyday thing.  I plan to continue learning and enjoy my teaching!

(The image above was generated with Keep Calm-O-Matic )

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