Five things to try when teaching a hybrid class

11 August 2021 | By Vivi

Performing at your best when all your years of experience have been turned on a head is difficult. But that’s a problem facing teachers the world over as they respond to the demands of hybrid learning.

To illustrate the challenge, let’s use an analogy from the world of sports broadcasting. Both television and radio have developed very different approaches to describing the action. “In radio commentary,” said former West Indies cricket captain, Sir Clive Lloyd, “you look out the window and describe what you see. That’s a complete no-no in TV.”

For most television consumers, the continuous dialogue in radio commentary would intrude on the viewing experience. But anyone trying to keep track of what’s happening in a game using only the television commentary would struggle to even know which team has the ball.

What teachers are trying to find is a balance between two very different worlds. There are plenty of tried and tested strategies for teaching students in a classroom environment, and successful approaches to remote learning have been deployed in Australia for half a century. Try to combine the two, however, and a whole new set of challenges appears.

Here, we explore five things you should try when teaching a hybrid class.

Make time for all

Evidence shows that emotionally supportive interactions help children develop a sense of wellbeing and security. But, staying connected with remote students—particularly in a hybrid classroom—is a challenge. The Global Online Academy suggests scheduling one-on-ones with each student and using them to actively engage them. Reachout, the mental health service for young people and their parents in Australia, recommends finding ways to share something of yourself with the class. By giving insight into your life, you may just make students feel more comfortable providing information on their own.

Share your plans

Planning is essential to selecting the right approach to each topic, but so too is sharing information. While technology is a great enabler, it also has the potential to go wrong. By uploading your outlines and guides in advance, you ensure there is a safety net if all doesn’t go according to plan.

Have everyone engage online

Rather than considering the classroom as the base and trying to integrate online learners, The Global Online Academy recommends moving to a model where everyone joins the class online regardless of location. It opens the opportunity to team remote learners with those in the classroom, who can act as facilitators for questions if necessary.

Approach each task differently

There are a number of different techniques you can employ when teaching a hybrid class. The models cover everything from everyone completing the same tasks simultaneously to having virtual students engage in tasks independently. The critical point is that while each approach has its place, you need to select the right one for each occasion.

Stay open to other ideas

As teachers discover new ways of working in a hybrid environment, the news of their innovations will spread. For example, the concept of “flipping” the classroom is gaining some traction. It was first seen schoolwide at Clintondale High School, near Detroit. The idea is to literally reverse the classwork-schoolwork dynamic. At home, students watch videos or listen to lectures recorded by the teacher. In the classroom, they use face-to-face time to work through individual or group assignments. The result is that students and teachers can optimize the time they spend together.