In many schools around the country, hybrid teaching will be our new norm for the coming year. It’s a solution that promises better social distancing without completely sacrificing in-person learning. Questions and concerns still abound, however. How should I structure my class? Will I be able to do anything other than lecture? How can I keep my students engaged? With what little guidance we have, it’s hard to know where to start, and there’s so much that needs to be done.
Hybrid learning will work differently for each subject and grade level, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are several strategies that can and should be employed in every hybrid classroom.
Build the Online Portion First
When designing a hybrid class, it’s best to build the online portion of the class first and to utilize in-person instruction as a way to reinforce the content with your students. Structuring your course this way will allow you to spend the limited in-person time you have reviewing important material, providing extra practice, and connecting with your students. Plus, if one of your students is quarantined and can’t come to class, they will still be able to learn. When part of your class is in the classroom and the other part is tuning in via Zoom, try to find activities that both groups can do, or even ones that they can work on together.
An online-first example you may already have experience with is the “flipped” classroom structure, where students view an instructional video or read a selected text before coming to class. They then use their time in the classroom to practice the material with the teacher and other students. This model often works better for college courses that have an online lecture and an in-person discussion section, but it can still provide a valuable framework for K-12 teachers.
Discuss Expectations with Students
It’s also important to clearly communicate with your class at the beginning of the year and let them know what to expect. The hybrid format is new to all of us, and students will need help navigating it, too. Let students know what the expecations are when learning in person and when learning online. Take the time to model for students and model often. PSD Global Academy, a pioneer of the hybrid teaching model, actually spends the entire first week of their school year on orientation activities. If everyone — teachers, parents, and students — is on the same page, your class is much more likely to run smoothly.
Use Virtual Tools to Facilitate Active Learning
One of the biggest challenges of a hybrid classroom is ensuring that active learning still takes place. It can be difficult for online students to stay motivated, to say the least. Using variety and hands-on activities are key. And, even if you’re able to incorporate these into your teaching, it can be hard to evaluate whether or not they are effective for your class.
In this situation, virtual tools can be incredibly useful. They can help with everything from gauging your students’ progress — think online polls or formative assessments — to facilitating group work with platforms like Google Drive and Zoom. If you think your hybrid class is missing something, there’s probably a virtual tool that can help.
At the end of the day, the teaching concepts that work best in the traditional classroom will mostly carry over to the hybrid classroom. Class discussion, hands-on projects, and a strong sense of community among your students will still be of the utmost importance. The trick is figuring out how to make these things happen. You’ll probably have to get creative. The good news, though, is that most of us are in the same boat. By sharing ideas, we can make the seemingly insurmountable task of designing our own hybrid classrooms a little easier.
As a K-12 teacher, it’s important to continue your professional development, and Credits for Teachers can help. CFT provides self-paced online Professional Development courses for K12 teachers. Teachers who take our courses receive graduate credit from our university partner that can be used for salary advancement or license renewal. Learn more about the courses we offer today!