4 days down, 32 to go.
I started hybrid teaching just 4 days ago, and I have already discovered tips and tricks to help. See what’s working and not working below.
Name your different classes. Or better yet, have them name themselves!
I picked up this trick from one of my favorite teachers on YouTube, Pocket Full of Primary, but modified it slightly. On day 1 of hybrid teaching, I quickly realized that I needed a way to differentiate between my virtual students and my students who were in my classroom. I told my in-person students to come up with a name and being the rat-obsessed goofballs that they are they came up with “Rats”. So now when I want to get my in-person students' attention, I can call them “Rats” and my virtual students are currently remaining “Virtual learners”.
Pair up your virtual learners with your in-person kids in breakout rooms.
My in-person students are still logged into “Teams” throughout the day and are still participating in breakout rooms, and other digital content even though they are in class. This means when students go to breakout rooms, I can have an in-person student in a room along with a virtual student, and I can monitor chats and discussions better. This also means that every student can connect to someone who is at school. This has already done wonders because I’ve had two students who previously opted to stay home who have now changed their minds and want to come back to school. It is also allowing my virtual learners to connect with me better because they have access to someone who is in the classroom who can get my attention if necessary.
Must have accessories. I’m in the process of making a new blog with my updated teaching accessories. Here is a quick list.
Tripod to mount either your phone or a webcam.
Additional laptop/computer (I have 2 right now, plus I use my phone as needed)
Additional keyboard (at home I had a desktop computer with a large keyboard, I quickly realized I can’t type on my laptop keyboard, so I purchased a regular keyboard)
Wired mouse & of course mousepad
USB adapter with lots of extra plugs
Doc Cam (my district provides one)
Lots of extra outlets
Febreze, wax warmers & Febreze plug-ins (I teach 6th and they can get a little stinky!)
Notebooks and Post-It notes
Dry erase markers & pencils
Lots and lots of sanitizer and Clorox wipes.
Class Dojo or Wheel of names
Equity Hybrid teaching can quickly get overwhelming if you aren’t careful. Start out slow and go from there. The first thing I realized I needed to change was making sure I was calling on my virtual students as much as my in-person students. I felt I was leaving them out, so I make sure that I am consistently using Class Dojo to call on students. I did this prior to hybrid teaching and am keeping it the same and it is working well.
In-person work and using camera and microphone
If you have read some of my previous blogs, you will learn that my district does not require cameras to be turned on for virtual learning. Most students will occasionally turn it on so I can at least see their faces, but I’ve had two holdouts who I haven’t seen for over a year. These same students refuse to use their microphones in meetings as well. These two students have opted to come back to the classroom, and I couldn’t be happier. I quickly learned why they didn’t speak or turn on their cameras. One has a stutter and is embarrassed. The other is very uncomfortable with her appearance and has gained some weight since COVID started and she is depressed over it. However, now that they are in person with me, they are flourishing. They are answering questions in person and have even started to use the chat feature on Teams. They even turned in some assignments!!!!
I learned quickly that my students need more breaks than usual. My in-person students need to get up stretch and take a quick outside break out to pull down their masks (without anyone else around of course). My virtual students need a break from their computers and need to get up and stretch. Since I teach older students, many of them are not fans of Go Noodle, so I’ll pose a would you rather question, or put on some stretches they can do for 3 to 4 minutes. Afterward, they know that we get right back on task so that no time is wasted. I try to give breaks every 15 to 20 minutes.
Paper and Pencil Tasks
When my students are in person I give them the option to complete their assignments using paper and pencil or electronically. Many of them are so tired of being on the computer that they would much rather do paper and pencil assignments than complete anything else on the computer. They are still required to log in to Teams and if they go to Breakout rooms they have to participate, but they are no longer required to complete their assignments on Nearpod.
Slow Down & Pace Yourself
Prior to hybrid teaching, I thought I had slowed down enough for all my students. Turns out I was very wrong. The WIFI issues and lag that my students face are no joke. Many times, their Teams chats won’t open, which is where we do so much of our communication. Many times, Nearpod won’t open or open very slowly, which is how I check their work. I now post the assignment, share my Nearpod code or pose the question and wait until my in-person learners have responded because I know that once they have responded my virtual learners have had more of a chance to respond and login to whatever it is we are working on. This has slowed down the pace of my lessons dramatically, but I am getting more engagement and more responses so I will take it! However, you should have something for your students who have finished to work on. I have some students who get the content quickly and do not have WIFI issues, so I need to have something for them to work on while I wait for the rest of the class.
Do you have any tips and tricks that you have learned? I would be curious to know what else educators are doing for hybrid teaching.