How Do I Teach Online and In Person at the Same Time? Your Questions, Answered

Here’s how to make technology work better for you

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As teachers, we can do and handle a lot. After all, there’s one of us and a classroom of close to 30 kids! That said, teaching online and in person at the same time feels impossible. If your head is spinning as you try to figure out exactly how to do this, you aren’t alone. Nothing about teaching this way feels fair or ok, and there’s no quick fix. We’ll learn as we go, and it won’t magically fall into place, but we’ll do our best. Here’s how to tackle the impossible one question at a time.

What tools will help me teach online and in person at the same time?

Your computer and a projector are two tools that will help you teach your students online and in person at the same time. Our friends at Epson created a short video that shows you how to easily integrate a popular video conferencing platform like Zoom with an Epson Interactive BrightLink Projector or an Epson Document Camera to create a collaborative and engaging classroom experience. The video explains how to facilitate a collaborative whiteboard session and how to control a Zoom session from your whiteboard. If you have a document camera, they explain how to use it in your workflow as well. 

How can I help my online students feel like part of the class?

Learning online can feel isolating. Make your lessons interactive so students online can participate in the same way as their peers. Once students have signed on, do a quick whip around and use call and response to connect kids online with kids in the classroom. Leverage tools like Padlet and Flipgrid to create a space for students to participate and collaborate whether they are in the classroom or at home. Pair an online student with a hybrid student when you ask students to work together asynchronously.

How will I know all of my students are learning?

Students learning online need to have the same learning opportunities as their in-person peers. When we are in the classroom, we scan and read the room. If students are off-task, we can redirect them. If our class looks confused or lost, we can slow down our pace. It’s challenging to check in on students online. Consider using an interactive presentation to share content with all students. Tools like Nearpod and Peardeck give you the option of adding quizzes, polls, and open-ended questions. Getting real-time student feedback will help you pivot and adjust your teaching in the moment.

What happens if the technology isn’t working?

Anticipate the challenges that might come up and make a backup plan before you start teaching. What should students do if their screen freezes? What happens if students can’t get into the Zoom room? Share a list of common tech issues and troubleshooting strategies with your online learners and their caregivers. You will lose valuable instruction time if you spend the entire class acting as tech support.

How do I prepare to teach online and in person at the same time?

There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to thoughtfully plan, but not having the information or the tools you need to get started. Teaching online and in person at the same time is new for all of us. Many of the tools you will use are new, but you are already familiar with some of them. Some of the tools that will be most helpful are your projector and document camera. Another tool that you may have used before COVID-19 is a slide deck. Like teaching, we learn how to use a new workflow and new technology by trial and error. Practice the new workflow with a colleague before you try it with students. This will help build your confidence and allow you to see what challenges or issues come up to address them.

What if students miss the lesson or can’t access it?

Many teachers record their lessons so students don’t have to worry about missing the lesson if their technology wasn’t working or they couldn’t come to school. Post the videos in your LMS, so all students have access. Added bonus: students can rewatch the videos if they need to. Loom and Screencastify are easy to use (and free!) tools for recording your screen. Students can see your face, which makes it more engaging.

What can I do to make this easier?

Lower the stakes and simplify what is a very complicated task. If all students are working on computers, treat everyone as if they are learning online. When you design and plan lessons, plan them for online learning. Ask your colleagues what is working well for them, and ask for help when you need it. You don’t have as much control over your classroom as you did before, but you do have an opportunity to build a new skill set and help your students learn how to use technology—a skill that will serve them well.

What are your tips for teaching online and in person at the same time? Share in the comments below.

Posted by Julie Mason

Julie Mason is a Senior Editor at WeAreTeachers. She taught middle and high school English, and is a blended and personalized learning instructional coach. She loves reading a book in one sitting, good coffee, and spending time with her husband and sons.

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