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I’ve made it through a semester of synchronous hybrid teaching AKA hyflex teaching. The following teaching tips are just my top tips after a long semester of teaching most students through Zoom while a few were in class in person. I have a hybrid/hyflex teaching tips video playlist on my YouTube channel, as well, in case you are interested. But, for now, here’s what I would keep in mind if you’re teaching in this form for the first time.
7 Synchronous Hybrid Teaching Tips
Get These 2 Helpful Physical Items
Let’s start with two items that I used basically every day of hybrid teaching: a water bottle and a mask. But not just any water bottle and mask. My first tip is to get a reusable water bottle that includes a built-in straw. That way, you only have to slightly raise your mask in order to take a sip of water. Your mouth will get so dry when teaching with a mask on. Having an easy to use water bottle handy is so key! Here’s the water bottle I use.
The other item is a mask, of course. But, I use a medical mask, because we already had them at home (long story) and they are much lighter than cloth masks. It’s much easier to breath and talk with this type of mask. But if you can’t access a medical mask, then I suggest getting a mask bracket to help with your breathing. The bracket gives you some space in your mask that makes it easier to breathe and also makes your voice easier to understand. A win-win. Here’s the bracket I have.
Use 2 Activities to Start and End Your Class Right
To start, begin each class with a “bell ringer” activity: a short, individual activity that students can do within a few minutes of time. By starting with this activity, there’s some wiggle-room for late students to arrive before you start going over the instructions for the major class activity. Or, a few minutes of wiggle-room before you start your lecture or start making important announcements. Late students will need to make up that work on their own time, but it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to complete. For my classes, short writing prompts work well for this activity. We can discuss a few of their answers briefly before moving on to the main element of class.
To end each class, or perhaps each week, do an exit card activity. This way, you can get a sense for what students are uptaking from your lessons and class activities. It can also give them a chance to tell you what’s confusing them. Here’s my quick tip video on using exit cards. I recommend using Pear Deck for this task, so it’s easy for all students to access it and you’re not collecting physical cards from your in-person students. Though your LMS quiz tool can work, too.
I’m definitely going to use these activities much more often next semester.
Record the Lecture Portions of Class
You might be recording the whole class session, in which case this tip doesn’t apply. But if you’re not, I recommend recording the lecture portions of your class periods and then posting those lectures on your LMS. That way, absent or distracted students still have a chance to listen to your lectures. You won’t need to meet with them outside of class to go over all this material from scratch. I don’t record class discussions because it makes my students even less likely to talk. But, recording your lectures has a lot of benefits and it’s easy to do.
Use Kahoot Not Just for Games, But for Student Feedback
My students designed the final few weeks of class. How? I used Kahoot to survey my students and ask them what types of class activities they wanted to do during Unit 3. I have a blog post about this approach, in case you want more information about this strategy. I highly recommend giving students a lot of choices in your classroom, and Kahoot is an easy way to gather information when some students are there in person and others are online.
Send Weekly Check-In Emails
I have a lot of students who were absent for large chunks of time this semester. Many left midway through and never returned. It’s finals week right now and I’m sending tons of emails about turning in missing work before it’s too late. So, next semester, I’m going to start these check-ins much earlier. A student is absent the whole week? Check in. A student is a week late turning in a major assignment? Check in. I want to see if this proactive approach increases the amount of students who make it all the way to the end of the semester. Hopefully, it will also decrease the amount of late work I’m still waiting for at the end of the semester. We’ll see how this approach goes…
So those are just seven tips for hyflex teaching that I recommend trying out. Again, I have a whole playlist about hybrid teaching, plus other blog posts about hybrid and online teaching. If you have your own advice, please share it in the comments below. I hope everyone has a safe, productive, relaxing, etc. holiday break. If you are still looking for gift ideas for educators, here are some ideas to try out.