If you are a new teacher and you aren’t sure where to start to set up your classroom, then look no further! Starting a new job can be exciting but also a little intimidating, so why not do some research and make your online classroom one less thing to worry about. Here are a few tips to get your online classroom up and running!
Make sure you have a friendly, inviting background that represents a classroom. Make it colorful and bright so students feel excited to be in your class. But, don’t make it too cluttered that it’s confusing. Additionally, some companies require their name or certain logos in the background so be sure to look into what your company requires. For Whales English, they don’t have any specific requirements, but I always make sure my name is showing big enough for the students to see. This ABC animal poster (in the picture below) was a perfect backdrop for a classroom. The students can associate each letter with an animal and you can use it to improve their phonetic skills.
One piece of equipment I use every day is my selfie ring light. It is SO important to have good lighting during your lessons so the students can see you properly. Some other pieces of equipment that are helpful include a webcam, headphones, an extension cord, a wifi extender, a laptop stand, and a mouse. Additionally, if you are traveling, I recommend getting a SIM card with some data on it in case your WiFi stops working unexpectedly. This way you can use your phone for a personal hotspot and continue your classes without getting penalized. It’s all about be prepared as an online teacher!
Of course not all of these pieces of equipment are required. Each company has different requirements so be sure to ask your interviewer what is needed and make sure you have fun with it!
If you are a low maintenance teacher like me, then a stack of books will work instead of a laptop stand. Another piece of equipment some teachers might need is a web cam. Most recent laptops have pretty good cameras so I wouldn’t worry too much about this. I bought a laptop that has a camera on it. Otherwise, you can always skip it and buy one later. One piece of equipment that is much needed are headphones, or a mic. I use regular iPhone headphones in my lesson and those work great. You don’t always need those $200 headphones. There are many ways to get creative so you don’t have to spend those big bucks to make your classroom complete. All in all, if you have a laptop stand, good lighting, a web camera/laptop camera, and some headphones, you are good to go!
Check out my FREE printable props here. Otherwise, you can make your own in a word document or using Canva to print out simple props. Some common props I love are a star, happy face, sad face, dog, cat, and a “how are you?” dialogue. If you have younger students, they love puppets in the class like a Spiderman or a dog. They are very useful when you want to demonstrate something to your student like answering a question instead of repeating after you. The puppet can represent the student and you represent the teacher (duhh) and you can ask the puppet a question and have them answer. I use this method all the time when I have a new student and I want them to introduce themselves.
You can use tons of household items like a book, a cup or a hat. Ive even used a pot in my lesson to show the kids what a pot looks like! Some teachers go all out with props and have stickers, building blocks, foam letters, but if you are always on the go (or you prefer a minimal style classroom) then a few props work just as well. Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t have a ton in your class. It’s all about your teaching performance rather than the amount of props you have.
Online Starter Kit
If you don’t feel like making your own props and want to get some right away? Purchase my ESL Online Starter Kit for teachers who want a one stop shop. This digital bundle has it all. You will get everything you need from colorful flashcards, exciting rewards systems, printable props, a map with country flags, and so much more! And even better, no shipping or waiting time! Just download, print, and use!
I hope you feel more prepared after reading this post. Remember to not sweat your first lesson! Go easy on yourself. We are all teachers, but we are also all learning too. I wish you all good luck on your online teaching adventure and if you want to become teacher friends, add me on Instagram below! OR, comment which company you’re working for.
If you are looking to get TEFL certified, check out this post where I explain what its like to get your certificate in Thailand!