The last year has been a trial by fire for many teachers as the whole world has moved to an online learning environment, and some teachers have been more successful than others.
We’ve been teaching online classes at Silicon STEM Academy for over 5 years now – long before the pandemic – mainly as a convenience for both parents and students to be able to join our classes from anywhere. We’re fortunate in that our computer-heavy subject matters tend to port well into an online world.
The teachers who were most successful at teaching online were the ones who didn’t try to replicate their in-person teaching strategies and styles online, but rather were the teachers who adjusted their curriculum to work in an online format. Converting curriculum and style is no small task! It’s a major lift and time-consuming effort, and I think the day-by-day and month-by-month uncertainties lured many teachers into thinking that it’s not worth the effort since we’ll all be back to school soon.
It was a complicated time, to say the least.
What we’ve learned over the years about how to effectively teach online is that the curriculum must be conducive to the format to begin with. And once the curriculum is aligned to the teaching format, then it’s a matter of having “presentables” at the ready to constantly be screensharing with your class. A good set of easy to understand presentables allows you to get your message across and keeps the student engaged. We follow a general rule of having at least 2 presentables ready for every key topic…and that the instructor can never stay on a presentable for more than 1 minute, with at least 30 seconds of full screen (no presentable) between slides. This is all in an effort of keeping the visuals as dynamic as possible!
Silicon STEM Academy is extremely particular about the quality of our class instruction and instructors. We like to think that we have the absolute best STEM instructors in the state, let alone among the best in the country! We constantly seek feedback from both students and parents. We measure our customer feedback with online polls routinely conducted during classes, along with post-class assessments. We also have a process in place to make adjustments quickly should we not be hitting the mark quite right in class. It’s about constant vigilance and a commitment to quality…and our commitment to our students.