Michelle Strange: A Tale of Two Hygienists presents this week’s TIPisode: quick and easy tips to keep you up to date and presented by the experts in the profession. Now, get ready for your unofficial TIPisode.
Melia Lewis: This TIPisode is brought to you in part by Orascoptic. To learn more about their loupes, frames, headlights and more, visit orascoptic.com.
Hey! This is Melia Lewis with Hygiene Edge, and this episode of Hygiene Edge-Ucators I want to talk a little bit about having a great online presence with your online classroom. We all know this has been the weirdest year for everything, but especially in education, everything that we’ve known about teaching has kind of gone out the window unfortunately. But maybe it’s a good thing. I mean, we’ve definitely had to rethink how we teach and how dental hygiene runs in the education space, and I feel like we can improve from what we’ve learned this year and definitely become better educators because of it.
So a couple little key factors. I’m going to, today, talk about a synchronous classroom. So it kind of depends on how you teach your class, but I know a lot of teaching right now, especially lecture classes, are on a synchronous where students login and they watch and interact with a lecture. So let’s talk about those lectures today and how to make them even better than what you’re already doing.
So the first step is make sure that you have a great mindset about online teaching. If you’re going into your classrooms thinking, “This is the worst. I do not like online teaching. I don’t feel like I can do this. This technology is awkward,” the students will definitely feel that. A leader’s mindset or a teacher’s mindset is definitely infectious to their students or their employees. So, in the business world, 50 to 75 percent of how employees perceive their organization and the culture that they have, it can be traced to the leadership, and education is no different. Students can feel and understand what their teachers are feeling just based on the educator’s mindset.
We have such a strong impact on our student’s life based on our energy and how we show up to class. Students are all alone right now. They’re sitting in their own room or in a room in the library, and they can’t feel the classmate’s energy unfortunately. So, right now, it’s a little bit more pressure on us to up our energy and have a great mindset when we go into class.
Number two. Set agreements or rules for your online classroom. This is something that’s great at the very beginning of the semester. Put it in your syllabus. Make sure you set these agreements. So make sure you be conscious of participation. What do you want participation to look like in your classroom? One little rule that you could set is “three before me.” So, if you speak or a student speaks, they want to have at least three other students speak before they speak again. This hopefully helps people get out of the box and being able to speak a little bit more because you know just even in real life classrooms we always get the same one or two people speaking. Hopefully, having this “three before me” rule will help other students branch out and be able to talk more on this online setting.
Other online rules that you might want to set is camera on or off. It depends where you teach and your school’s expectation with that. I know it’s hard right now. People are attending school wherever they can fit it. A lot of times it’s at a coffee shop, so sometimes the camera on might be impossible for them. But camera on or off might be a rule you set. As a teacher, it’s really nice to have the camera on and to see and see what your students are up to and just see their faces and visualize who you’re talking to.
Another one is don’t forget your body language. So, as you’re speaking on Zoom or Canvas or whoever your — Teams, however your classes are set, even though the students can only see your face, they really can see a lot of body language from you. How do you lift your shoulders? What are your hands doing? Your face or your eyebrows? You can move closer to the camera. You can move away from the camera. But a rule of thumb is try to keep an arm’s length from the camera to you, and then you can move in and out as needed. But that gives the student a really good visual of you, maybe a little bit of your surrounding if you keep it about an arm’s length away from the camera.
Don’t be shy to get a little bit louder or a little bit quieter. Just like you would in regular class, Zoom doesn’t have to be monotone. I know it’s a little bit trickier because, again, you’re not feeling the energy from your students, but it can definitely be there with a little bit of practice.
The next thing that could help your classroom is show up at least 10 minutes early. So, if you log in 10 minutes early and you let your students know, you can be there to connect with them, to talk with them, to answer questions, uh, just have a little bit more office-y hours — unofficial office hours to connect with them and answer a simple question. You’ll also give yourself a little bit extra time if your camera’s not working, your slides aren’t working. Nothing is more stressful than showing up to a meeting right when it starts and then technology isn’t working. So giving yourself that extra 10 minutes can make sure everything will run smoothly for your class.
Another tip with these synchronous classes is make sure you have a paper close by to take notes. So we all know that when we talk about something we think, “Oh, I got to remember that.” But then we rarely do. So physically having a paper and pen by you to jot down a question or jot down something a student says is really helpful to have as the class is over. With Zoom classes, they go by really fast, and sometimes it’s kind of a blur, so having this paper close by to take notes is really important.
The last tip I want to point out is never call out a student publicly. Instead of saying, “Hey, I haven’t heard from Jill for a really long time. Jill, tell me what — tell me this answer,” We don’t know what Jill’s up to. Again, she might be at a local restaurant trying to fit in. She might have her kids in the background, which I know is not ideal, but you know, with this world, it’s happening all the time. So, instead, you could privately message a person to see what they’re up to or you would love them to speak up or answer a question. That might be a great way to reach out and see them. You could also just generally say, “I would love to hear from some of the people who haven’t spoken yet. Is anyone that hasn’t spoken, would they love to answer this question?”
Instead of making it calling someone out individually and putting them on the hot seat, make it a little bit more inclusive and have everyone involved by privately messaging them to see if they’d be interested in speaking or being part of the discussion somehow.
I just want to end and say thank you so much. The amazing instructors out there in the field, we have been on this crazy adventure for a year of being online and teaching different ways and showing up in different ways. But all I can say is you guys are doing so good. Keep it up. Your students appreciate you so much, and we’re excited to learn a lot more about education in these next couple years along with you.
Thanks for listening with Hygiene Edge-Ucators. We’ll see you next time.
Michelle Strange: We hope you enjoyed this week’s TIPisode. Be sure to reach out to our guest experts and let them know how helpful their tips were. Follow A Tale of Two Hygienists on Facebook, Instagram, and head over to ataleoftwohygienists.com and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and keep listening for more awesome content from your unofficial dental hygiene podcast.