Transitioning to Blended Teacher

So while I’ve used videos in class before, once or twice, it was an exception for a special class. It wasn’t for my normal classes, and it didn’t really feel like blended teaching. Back then, it was just a way to get my students’ attention, all of whom were teenagers, on a Friday morning in their summer break.

This year, after the presentation of our new textbook series for teaching English, which contains video elements and an online language lab, I took some online classes on Coursera to familiarize myself with online and blended learning and teaching. And I slowly realised that blended teaching offers a lot of possibilities. Still, I thought that, apart from the video elements, I wouldn’t really be able to use much of what I learnt in my classes.

Now this week, I’m teaching an intensive communication and grammar class at an intermediate level (CEFR B1) from 9 – 2pm every day, and part of the materials I want to use as conversation starters are short video clips I found online (next to more classic elements like reading or listening texts, or simple questions). After some technical problems with the Internet connection today (or, rather, me not checking the second outlet after the first didn’t work…), my boss sent me an email this afternoon to assure me I will have a working Internet connection tomorrow. So my classroom has a laptop, loudspeakers, a projector, and Internet. And it’s dawning what that actually means.

The possibilities I now have go beyond a few online video clips. I can show them cartoons or photos online, use presentation tools like PowerPoint (or let my students use them for their end-of-class presentation on Friday), maybe even access quizzes online that they can take together. My vault of teaching materials just increased a hundredfold, if not more.

Sure, it takes a little while to set up laptop and projector, but once I’ve done it a few times, it should be a routine that doesn’t take much longer than a few minutes at most–time I often spend copying materials.

On days where my knees hurt too much to write stuff on the board much, I could even use a Word processor to write explanations or vocabulary for my students to see. Without leaving my chair.

And when I finally get a smartboard installed in “my” classroom (read: the classroom I teach most of my classes in) and get my training done, things will get even easier.

I think I’m really looking forward to transitioning from an offline teacher to a blended teacher.

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