Tips For Teachers: Better Engage Your Virtual Learners

tips for teachers, student engagement, virtual assembly shows, virtual assemblies, virtual learners

Virtual learning doesn’t have to be this way

As I entered my office this morning to read through my emails of the thousands of elementary schools requesting virtual assembly shows this year (ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration), I found my 16 year old daughter blankly staring at her computer. Today is her first day of her junior year and this is where she will sit for the next 10 weeks, at least.

This is the face of a girl trying to be happy about not going to school. That fake smile tells me three things; 1. She is  miserable, 2. “Dad, don’t take my picture”, and 3. “Oh, my gosh, I’m about to poke my eyes out.” I’m saddened by all of this. To her, this isn’t high school. This is torture.

As I sit here typing this blog, her teacher’s voice reminds me of a cross between Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh and Ben Stein as he played a teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Bueller…..Bueller.” This high school teacher is trying to cope and do the best he can, but he’s not trained for this kind of teaching. I know he is trying to make his zoom class worthwhile, but the poor guy needs some help. He needs a little knowledge about showbiz.

Showbiz gets its name from Show + Business

There’s no need to discuss the business aspects of showbiz for the purposes of this blog, but some characteristics of what makes a great show need to be brought up. As a live assembly show performer with over 35 years of on-stage performance experience, I know a little about audience engagement. So, if you’re a teacher tasked with conducting your classes online, keep on reading.  The three suggestions below will help to wake your students up and keep them engaged. 

Ella wishes her dad was doing a
virtual assembly show this morning. 🙂

1. Everyone likes to be on TV

Ever notice how assembly show presenters love to use audience volunteers? When kids or students are featured on stage in a live show, the audience pays attention.  Teachers who are teaching through a computer platform can use this same technique. Kids love being in the spotlight. Just take a look at Youtube, TikTok, or any teenager’s Snap Chat or Instagram page. They are posting videos of themselves constantly.  A smart teacher will take advantage of that. By using interactive learning platforms for virtual lessons, teachers can easily spotlight students. Some platforms allow the speaker to be switched to the main window of a conference call and kids love that (and if they don’t, it certainly keeps them on their toes in case they are called on). Instead of speaking and teaching all the time, lots of questions and answers can be used to keep students engaged. Some creative teachers will let the students take control. Emailing a student a paragraph to read aloud, or a list of questions to ask the class, gives students a chance to be the focus of a lesson and it keeps other students engaged.

2. To up the energy, just smile

Can you imagine a live show presenter starting their show or speech without a smile? One of the first things a performer does is say “hello” to their audience, pause, and smile. This tiny detail helps a speaker draw attention to themselves and build rapport with their audience. Teachers can use this sneaky trick too.  For many teachers, being energetic can be exhausting. Trying to keep animated and excited for 6 hours during a regular school day is something they would never attempt. But virtual learning and teaching is different. If you’re the kind of teacher who has a dryer approach to presenting lessons, one simple trick to add some enthusiasm to your talk is this: simply smile when talking and teaching. It’s really that easy. When smiling, the tone of your voice changes and even the most monotone voice will come a little more alive. This is a trick radio disc jockeys use all the time. Next time you’re in the car with the radio on, listen carefully to the morning show DJs. You’ll hear their smile immediately and it makes a world of difference.

3. Invite a virtual guest

There is no reason you need to go this alone. You deserve a break and so do your students. Think about asking the school’s PTA for funds to bring in a professional assembly show presenter. Many magicians, character educators, and science show presenters are now offering their assembly shows in a virtual format. Scheer Genius Assembly Shows has been entertaining and educating elementary school students for over 35 years and this year will be no different.  We have virtual assembly show programs that are perfect for elementary and middle school students. Ask about our two virtual science shows, our virtual environment show, and our prerecorded virtual character show.  Our presentations can be presented live or in a prerecorded format to best fit your budget. Call me today at (248) 891-1900 or click below to learn more.