Hello! My name is Kristen Harrison and I have been lucky enough to teach with Qkids for 6 months. Before teaching ESL online, I taught science in a brick and mortar high school for 8 years, leaving to spend more time with my family. Qkids has helped make the transition from brick and mortar to online teaching smooth, particularly because they embrace and encourage many styles of teaching.
Almost as soon as I was hired, I began scouring Facebook for positive, upbeat groups to join to aid me on my journey as a Qkids teacher. I joined several: House of Qkids, Qkids “newbie” group, Qkids Teachers, Positive Support Group, and Qkids Moms and Expecting Moms. I noticed differences in teaching styles among groups immediately. I began to incorporate different techniques into my lessons, combining the styles of veteran online ESL teachers with my own to create a mode of teaching online that felt authentic and effective.
Most teachers seem to fall into one of two stylistic camps, props vs no-props, each with its own pros and cons. Those who prefer to use props appear to also prefer teaching lower levels and phonics where props really help students grasp the new language they are learning. For example, a lower-level student learning about the weather would greatly benefit from props showing recognizable images of different types of weather (rain, sun, cloud, snowflake) to facilitate understanding and increase retention of new vocabulary.
Those who prefer to rely more heavily on TPR and verbal explanation of terms tend to shine with older, more fluent students. These students have a better grasp of the fundamentals of English and need more focus on the nuances of the language that are not easily condensed into simple props. For example, when discussing the directions to walk from the park to the library, the student can often choose from multiple paths and need to obtain words and directions from their vocabulary arsenal; they are past the point of repeating words demonstrated by props.
Another stylistic difference I have noticed is not so obvious. Many Qkids teachers subscribe to the Expert teaching style, wherein the teachers share their knowledge and expertise with the students as the main form of connection and learning. In a higher level class, you are more able to share cultural and lifestyle information with students, especially when teaching a fun lesson like Christmas or Spring Festival! However, this type of connection can be difficult with lower-level students, where the interaction is equally positive but more lesson focused, due to lack of fluency. A teacher who prefers to be a Formal Authority and teach the lesson as written without a lot of personal anecdotes would be a better fit in this scenario.
Having pointed out a few different teaching styles that I have noticed while reading Facebook posts, I would also like to acknowledge that styles change from class to class, student to student, as they should. Both styles are important and have a place in online education, and I often find myself switching from one style to another based on class fluency levels, as well as the number of students, and their classroom etiquette.
Anthony F. Grasha developed several different teaching styles but warned against pigeonholing teachers into one style or another. We are the most effective teachers when we use our own personal model of teaching, combining our intuitive style with expert advice from our peers. This pinpoints an important component of success when working with Qkids: being an active participant in online peer groups. Only together can we make ourselves, and our students, the best we can be!
If you want to join the best group of online ESL teachers around, please use my referral code when applying (NOWANY) and message me for any and all questions and assistance!
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