Because I taught online PRE-pandemic at a fully virtual school, I’m often asked about my experiences with virtual teaching. Specifically, everyone always wants to hear about the virtual teaching workspace: what’s nice to have, what you absolutely need, and what you don’t.
Since virtual teaching is already challenging enough, your workspace should be functional enough to make it easier for you. When you have the screens, tools, and resources you need, you will be able to focus on what matters most: The students on the other side of the screen.
To help you do this, here is a list of my top 5, no-frills “must-haves” for your virtual teaching workspace:
1. EXTRA DEVICE OR MONITOR
Just like there’s never enough time in the day, there are never enough screens to display! When it comes to virtual teaching, there is one golden rule: The more screens, the merrier. Seriously, if you can only add one thing on this list, I would recommend finding an extra monitor or using an additional device, such as an iPad. I actually love using my iPad because I can use my Logitech Crayon to annotate, draw diagrams, and take notes. The Crayon is a durable digital pencil designed for iPads, so it’s a great option for students, too. You could even use it to create digital anchor charts!
I’ve used up to 3 screens while online teaching: My laptop, an external monitor, and my iPad. For example, I might have my online lesson on my laptop, the live chat on the monitor, and then Google Classroom on my iPad. It all depends on the day and the lesson, but one thing is for sure: One screen is never enough.
If you’re in need of an iPad case, check out Logitech’s selection of convenient, durable keyboards that will turn your iPad into a second laptop. You can check them out HERE.
2. HIGH-QUALITY HEADSET
The only thing worse than asking your online students a question and hearing nothing but crickets is when that lack of response is caused by audio problems! Clear, crisp, and functional audio is one of the absolutely most important parts of virtual teaching. So if you’re still trying to teach with earbud headphones or that headset from the 1990s, it’s worth it to invest in a quality headset. Your ears will thank you later!
Here’s what you’ll want to look for in a headset:
- Comfort: Since you’ll be wearing it for hours at a time, make sure that your headset is comfortable. Padding on the ears and the headband is essential!
- Noise & Echo Cancellation: Nobody likes annoying background noise or an echo, so it’s worth it to invest in a noise-cancelling headset.
- Microphone: Make sure that you are purchasing a headset with a mic — not just a pair of headphones!
This headset from Logitech fits the bill and won’t break the bank!
Because you’re so busy keeping track of so many other things during virtual learning, it’s easy to lose track of your daily agenda and lesson plans. Because I always have dozens of literal tabs open on my computer and just as many mental tabs open in my brain, I like to have my planner laid out of my desk. This way, I can refer to my lesson plans at a glance, without having to toggle back and forth between any other screens.
I’m a Google doc AND paper planner kind of teacher, but if you’re strictly an online planner, I would recommend printing your plans or pulling them up. I wouldn’t want to “waste” an extra screen or device on my lesson plans, so I like to have them physically in front of me while I teach.
4. BLUE LIGHT GLASSES
One of the most challenging parts of virtual teaching is staring at screens (instead of students) all day long. Extended time in front of the computer can quickly cause eyestrain and headaches, but blue-light blocking glasses can help. If you don’t already have a pair, they’re worth checking in to. The plus side: It’s easy to find a pair that’s effective AND stylish so you can rock the official uniform of 2020: blue light glasses, nice shirt on top, and pajamas on the bottom!
5. STICKY NOTES (AND LOTS OF THEM)
A stack of sticky notes will go a long way when you’re busy trying to do All of The Things while you’re virtually teaching. I find that sticky notes are helpful for things that I don’t have time to act on right then, but that I need to remember or record later. I find myself jotting down who was late, whose parent I need to email, whose late work I need to grade, etc…the list goes on.
Hopefully, this list helps you figure out what works best for your virtual learning work space this year!
Need more online teaching tips? Check out the blog posts below: