The challenge in this increasingly-common scenario is to engage students in class equitably and students on-screen while providing effective teaching. Educators managing a hybrid classroom must take a dynamic, empathetic, and attentive approach to their lessons to ensure all students get what they need.
Let’s talk about how educators today can safely, equitably, and effectively manage their hybrid classrooms for all students.
Critical considerations for a hybrid classroom
The hybrid classroom creates a new learning environment with unique challenges that instructors and administrators must examine and address to build a safe and productive educational classroom space for teachers and students. Understanding these challenges can help design better guidelines for your school’s hybrid learning scenarios.
Taking a pop quiz on a paper print-out, the teacher places on your desk is easy and intuitive. The same examination should be just as easy for remote students. So the tech you use to deliver and accept their work needs to be accessed and used efficiently to ensure all students are on the same page.
All students in both environments should feel they can see, be seen, and be heard easily, Which includes equal access to the materials in the lesson. The technology, hardware, and software must make this possible for an equitable learning experience.
Attention and relationship
It’s easier to provide individual support to the students in front of you, but your attention needs to be just as available for the students connecting through video or even asynchronously. Critically consider how you build relationships with remote and in-person students. Give them space for private inquiry and to bond effectively with one another.
Communication and participation
To foster inclusivity for students tuning in remotely, you may need to modify your go-to in-person strategies for hand-raising, speaking, lecturing, and discussion.
The first step is to develop a strategy that ensures you pay attention to and invite all your students in both environments. Next, you might think about how your lesson and instruction inhabit both your physical and virtual classroom in a way that maintains students’ focus and helps them feel welcomed, heard, and engaged.
5 best practices for creating an engaging hybrid learning environment
Here are a few top tips to help maintain an engaging and effective hybrid classroom for students.
1. Take your time.
More students will keep up and stay engaged if you’re willing to move a little slower through lesson plans. A slower pace especially benefits remote students, who may use an unfamiliar digital learning technology solution, and you will spend less time re-explaining yourself.
Additionally, facts of remote learning, such as the time delay in sound delivery, means that remote students receive your lesson sometimes seconds after the in-person cohort. So paced patience can prove immensely supportive to your at-home learners and students in either environment who may have sensory issues or other learning challenges.
2. Open up multiple channels for communication.
A lively, engaging discussion can be one of the best parts of a school day. But in both remote and in-person scenarios, this often means that the loudest and most enthusiastic voices are given priority.
Incorporating a web conferencing solution like Zoom into your lesson plan gives quieter students unique access to the chat feature, which you can encourage them to use for added participation points. This is especially helpful for students who may not be entirely verbal at all times but are still attentive.
3. Create a routine, and stick to it.
Spontaneity can be a delightful feature in either classroom scenario, but in a hybrid setting, it means added prep time for you and likely some logistical confusion for your students. Planning your curriculum and daily schedule at least a week in advance, and getting all students on board, can help keep everyone on the same page and your day running smoothly.
4. Ask for help.
TAs can serve multiple functions, from basic zoom operation (think about all the times you’ve had to pause a lesson to mute microphones) to one-on-one special ed support.
Whether it’s a designated tech assistant, an in-person classroom assistant, a remote-only assistant, or all three – having extra staff on board to support you means you can get more done in a day and give all students the individual attention and support they are likely to need. And you don’t have to spend all your time working out the technological hiccups!
5. Make it fun!
Wherever you’re teaching and wherever your students may be, battling distraction will always be a part of the educator’s duty list. Therefore, it’s essential to consider how you can keep an eye on yourself and students willing and wanting to participate in a way that keeps learning fun and effective for all.
Consider having a microphone for in-person students to control the flow of discussion better and keep remote students in the mix. Keep moving, incorporate video and collaboration into your lessons, and gamify where possible.
Final thoughts: classroom management strategies for hybrid learning
You don’t need to reinvent the pedagogical wheel to make hybrid learning effective and engaging. It may require some strategic reconfiguration in the beginning. But supported by your classroom assistants, purpose-built technologies, and an exciting lesson plan, managing your hybrid student body will prove seamless and engaging.