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COVID-19: What Can English Teachers Abroad Do?

COVID-19: What Can English Teachers Abroad Do? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

“What we can’t see can’t hurt us” - Really?

Not many businesses will do well out of this current CoronaVirus / COVID-19 pandemic gripping the planet with fear at the moment, (unless we are toilet paper manufacturers) as we stand, waiting like a deer in the headlights for something we can’t see to hit us.

I don’t know what COVID-19 means, however, I was looking for a positive way to think about it and I came up with: “Communication Of Virtual Instruction Design” For those unfamiliar with the terminology of “instruction design” it’s what we do as teachers.

The technical terminology is: “a systematic approach to education that prompts educators to familiarise themselves with the learners in their classroom on a personal level, in order to more comprehensively understand how they learn. Once educators have gathered the intel about their students, this information is critical to designing personalized lesson plans.” - Great for “1 on 1”.

women in front of board

The COVID Action Plan

The obvious concerns are:

  1. Will we have jobs?
  2. If so, how will it look and can we still make a difference to the people we are teaching?

I don’t claim to have all or even some of the answers here, just a couple of thoughts running around in my head that I thought if put down for others to think about, we could come up with a collective COVID Action Plan. As the newly formed acronym suggests “Communication Over Virtual Instruction Design” the communication could be across the net. We can almost replace the word “could” in that last sentence with “would”; the new way of teaching at least in the short term will need to be across the net, so can we adapt, should we adapt to Our teaching would need to be across the net, in the increasingly more than likely scenario of “One on One" learning?

To create a team or discussion group around these very questions will see all of us do more than just survive, we’ll thrive.

1. Will we have jobs?

My initial thoughts are “yes”. I know a Candian teacher that has been teaching online for more than four years now to classrooms of 20 - 30 young learners in China. Logic says that if 30 students are not allowed to go to school and sit together for a while (which could easily turn into ‘months’) then they will still need to get their English lessons in. So one teacher was teaching 30 students, now there are 29 more students looking for an English teacher.

On the plus side, if you (like myself) lack experience in teaching, this is our time to shine. This is our time to get that experience. Every cloud has a silver lining, that’s our first silver lining right there.

So how do we set ourselves up to be a VET? (Virtual English Teacher - too many acronyms? Okay, last one then). We will, of course, have to get online and create a presence. A website presence, a social media presence, any videos you can YouTube of ourselves teaching. It’s not going to happen overnight, however, we will be taking the first steps in a virtual world of education. At the same time that you are learning a new skill in website designing through to ‘how to get things up on social media so you’ll be taken seriously’, look for work that’s online only. I have found a webpage that deals with many positions around the world for online teaching. I haven't verified any of the education companies myself, however, the guy that puts this website together claims to have checked most of them, either through his own experience or from the experience of others. Email me for the website URL; I won't list the website here in case the website disappears one day. My email address you will find in my profile here.

teacher sitting at desk working

2. How will the classroom look, and can we still make a difference to others?

This is the part that interests me the most. Both from what I have thought about, to what can we create here as a collective?

The obvious questions like:

  • How will I get around the classroom?
  • Will the students be able to see me?
  • How do I see each of the students individually?
  • How do I control a classroom if I am not physically there and things get out of hand?

To the more complex questions like:

  • What do I teach for one hour ‘one on one’?
  • Has this already been done before?
  • What time zones would I have to teach in?
  • How do I know if I will get paid?

As I said, I don’t have the answers, the objection of this blog is to create discussion and perhaps lend a hand to others. Is it easy, is there a path traveled by many already, is there already a COVID Action Plan I am not aware of in another form?

I believe we can make a difference to those that we teach just as effectively online as in person with some adaptation. Who knows, maybe this is the future of schooling and we have just been forced to give it a try with this new threat to our way of life.

Let me know your thoughts.

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