How to Be Camera Confident – Tips and Tricks for Teaching Online
As a regular classroom teacher, I wondered if I could ever be an online English teacher? I questioned myself if I had the confidence to teach on a social media platform that was new to me. Am I really camera confident? For sure, I had my doubts and I was uncertain if this was a career for me. I can 100% say this has been the best decision. I will also share ways to boost your teaching confidence. Also, I am sure many of you are wondering “ Can I teach online?”, “Do I have the confidence to teach online?”, “ Can I make a living teaching online?”. Well if you’re reading this article, then your answer should be YES!
These tips will not only help you but will help be more secure and camera confident during class.
Plan Your Classes
This is probably the most important tip of them all. If you are teaching English, make sure you plan your lessons, students will definitely notice. You need to know what you are teaching them and what goal you want to achieve at the end of the lesson. Having a planned lesson will allow enough time for each section of the module. You should try your best to complete the lesson material that is given in each class.
However I have come across lesson material that is too short for the lesson, which means I need to create extra work to allow them to practice what they have learned. Don’t be surprised if your company does not give you the required amount of material for the lesson. Some companies want you to do extension work with the student. Remember: “Be prepared”.
Show Your Face
I don’t know if you have experienced this but sometimes my classes do not have a camera. This means that I do not see my students due to technical difficulty from their side. I was so nervous and did not know how to be camera confident and teach a full lesson without seeing the students. However the students still want you to teach them because they can still see you. If I cannot see my students I will continue the lesson as long as I can hear them and they are doing the activities on the board then they are learning something from my lesson.
It is so important that you show your face on the camera. Always look presentable and make sure you have good lighting, no shadows in the background, a presentable background, for example if you are teaching children it should be a child friendly background. I usually show just under the shoulder and my whole head in the camera. When you are teaching, always smile and show a positive attitude in the classroom. Your face can change the whole dynamic of the lesson. This will definitely boost your teaching confidence.
I have had students who do not want to learn. So I have tried to make them laugh by doing something funny or using musical instruments to grab their attention. It is very important to make sure your camera is working before a lesson. Make sure your updates on your laptop are done in advance to avoid any complications before a class.
Prepare and Master Technology
Teaching English online with the right technology is a must. I have emphasized that planning and preparing a lesson is the utmost importance when teaching online. However sometimes our technology can give up on us while we are teaching a lesson. I have had such bad luck with technology. My headphones have given up on me, my light broke and my laptop needed repairs. So What I have done is buy an extra set of headsets to make sure they are near me, I have an extra laptop I keep on during my lessons in case my laptop wont turn on or gives me trouble logging into class, and I have bought myself a ring light to give me better lighting.
It can be very scary if your technology does not work which makes you stressed before a lesson. Trust me it is not a good feeling when this happens so make sure you have any backups nearby. Also, another important tip is to make sure your lesson materials open up before your lesson. I have had numerous times that the material does not open, however you need to have Plan B. Most companies have a support group who you can contact. Try your best to use the props and materials you have to continue with the lesson. That is why planning is very important so you know what you are teaching.
Set up a Reliable Working Station
For those of you who have not seen my videos on Instagram and Facebook, I absolutely love my props in my classroom. Every lesson that I prepare I make sure that my props are ready next to me for each lesson. I make sure all my flashcards are ready and visible as well. Sometimes I have backup props in case my students choose something else. For example: My students love to dress up in class with me, often they will ask me where my clown nose is or my big ears. There are some props that I keep with me all the time such as a white board, my plastic microphone for singing, color flashcards, number cards, musical instruments and my dress up props. You will be more organized for your lessons and have more confidence to teach them if you are prepared with a great working station.
Provide Interactive Activities
Teaching English with a 50 minute lessons can be boring for a younger student especially if there is no fun and games in the classroom. I always try to make my lessons fun and interactive. This makes me feel more confident in my lessons because I know the student is learning but also having plenty of fun. I always say teach every lesson as if it were your last. You want these students to come back. Be confident in what games you want to play and try your best to give the instructions as clear as possible.
If I am teaching one to three students in my class, I have a PowerPoint worksheet with all sorts of pictures on them. I give them a minute, and every name if called out they need to circle the correct picture. Sometimes I have to act out the picture if they don’t know. Each student gets a turn to see who finds the most. I often do this with smaller groups or bigger groups. My students absolutely love this game. This gives them more confidence at the beginning of my lesson.
Motivate Your Students
Motivating your students during your lessons is such a vital part of teaching online. This builds their confidence to learn a new language. This can also be a way to boost your confidence as well as the students confidence. I know my confidence builds up more when my students feel like they are having fun in my classroom. Get to know your students by finding out the things they like and don’t like. Use that to your advantage in the classroom to make rewards based on the things like most. For example: I had a student who thoroughly enjoyed eating ice cream. I created an ice cream reward chart which allowed her to get an ice cream scoop every time she improved in class.
Ask for Help and Feedback
All the online teaching companies that I have worked for have a support system. This support system should be there when you are teaching. So make sure it is minimized on your computer. I do this because I have come across many times that my student is not present or this is technical issues with the platform or students are having issues. It is so important to record or report these scenarios to your support group to avoid losing money or missing a students class.
When I first started I was super nervous, however I always asked my support group from the company for help. Often they gave me pointers where I can improve and gave me ideas as well. This is very important to know what your mistakes are so that they do not happen again. It can be very nerve wrecking if your internet does not work. I know that if my internet is bad I lose a percentage of the class rate and I am less camera confident. So be confident in your internet and make sure you check it before your lessons as well to avoid something like that from happening.
How to Overcome Nerves
I think the most important way to overcome my nerves is to always be prepared and be ready on time. For me if I am not prepared for my lessons and I am not on time. I feel overwhelmed and stressed for my classes. It is so important to take deep breaths and remember that these students are just as nervous as you are. Sometimes confidence can’t be given but you can take steps to calm your nerves. I usually dress up for my lessons to feel more confident. I thoroughly enjoy putting on mickey mouse ears or any other dress up props I have. My students love when I dress up. This makes them feel relaxed as well.
I then set up my classroom to make sure I have all the necessary teaching materials I will need throughout my lessons for the day. Make sure you are comfortable where you are, that’s the key to be camera confident. I then check all my teaching devices are working such as my headsets, laptop and internet. Last but least, before I start my class I take deep breaths and focus on all the lesson material that needs to be taught. Remember at the end of the day you are learning, sometimes we will see the same student regularly which makes it a lot before to get to know them however you might get a different student all the time. I do still get nervous for certain classes but I know if my lessons are prepared then they should go smoothly.
What Happens When You Mess Up
I can be honest and say that I have messed up in my classes a few times. Most of the students you teach do not know that you have messed up though. I usually just repeat myself a second time and correct myself. I do not say I made a mistake. Just repeat yourself and say it again. However you will get some students who are a bit more advanced and notice a mistake. I usually cover it up by saying I am just testing you. Remember teachers do make mistakes and that is okay.
I learn something new every day. One thing I struggle with is remembering students’ names or saying their names correctly. I ask for their English name which helps me instead of saying their Chinese name. If you are teaching a large group of students. I usually say I would like one girl/boy to answer the question. See what works best for you.
Camera Confident Tips for Your Introduction Video
I cannot tell you how many times I redid my demo video before applying to companies. This is probably the worst part of the whole process so it is vital that your introduction video is good. This gives the company an overall impression of who you are and how you will teach in your classroom. Confidence is definitely key when recording your video. What helps with your confidence is to record your video when no one is around.
You want quiet in the background. Be presentable and create a beautiful classroom background for your video. Impress the company by showing off your amazing props you have to offer. It helps a lot to become more camera confident. Most important, do not read a script. Try to be relaxed and know what you want to say before recording as well. Keep your video fun and create and straight to the point. I would recommend not more than a minute long. Try to be unique and show them something different from any other teacher. Confidence is key for students to choose the correct teacher. Sometimes you need to look like you’re confident even when you’re not. What have you got to lose? Why not start your teaching career today?
Webcam Tips When Online Teaching
One thing I have learned when using a webcam is to have good quality. If your webcam is blurry and does not work well in the classroom, Do you really think students will book your classroom again? Always check the quality of your webcam before a class. Anything can happen, for example. I remember entering my classroom without knowing my camera was not working till I opened up the classroom. I had to cancel my class due to my technical difficulty from my side. Only to find out that I did not do an update on my laptop.
It is so vital to check these errors before your class in order to be camera confident. My update took the whole day. Another tip when you are on camera is to be fun and energetic, especially with children’s classes, I do know this will take some time to get used to but I can guarantee the students will be more engaged with a fun and bubbly teacher. It gives you confidence and it gives your students more confidence to learn a new language.
Just remember I have teaching experience teaching English in a classroom setting however I was super nervous to teach online. It’s ok to feel this way but I can promise you that your confidence will build up once you get the hang of online teaching.
Deciding Which Webcam Can Boost Your Teaching Confidence
There are so many ways to boost your teaching confidence by using the correct webcam on a low budget. Nowadays, laptops have built-in cameras and it is more affordable, customizable and upgradable. It’s the most important piece of equipment needed for teaching English online. Usually built-in cameras are not the best. If someone tries to convince you that your built-in camera is not good enough – don’t worry because it probably is.
If you prefer to buy a webcam, it definitely does have its advantages to it. Unlike built in webcams, external webcams are not constrained. This means you can set the webcam further away allowing students to see more. You can place the webcam on a tripod from different angles as well. You can match the webcam to show the right height when looking at the camera as well. Remember some webcams show higher video quality as well.
With all our tips, now you can say that you are camera confident!