Tips & Features for Teaching in a Hybrid Classroom
As we enter a new semester, and some parts of the world implement new restrictions in response to the pandemic, hybrid or blended learning environments have become a key part of providing educational continuity.
Globally, school leaders are expanding their planning for how they will continue to support hybrid classroom environments post-pandemic, too. When inclement weather, poor air quality days, illness, travel, or other issues prevent students from attending class in person, hybrid classroom setups allow learning to continue from virtually anywhere.
But teaching in a hybrid environment is a wholly different experience than in-person instruction. One tip educators suggest is having all students — even those in the physical classroom — join your Zoom class from their individual devices. With all students on Zoom, you can use the following digital tools and features to create an engaging experience for everyone.
Breakout Rooms facilitate group learning and collaboration between remote and in-person students. Have all students join your Zoom meeting, then use Breakout Rooms to give students in class and online the opportunity to socialize, collaborate, and work together, no matter where they’re located.
Zoom Breakout Rooms allow you to:
- Pre-assign students to Breakout Rooms before your class
- Pre-assign Breakout Rooms for recurring meetings so that you can save the same Breakout Rooms for your class for the entire quarter or semester (useful for long group projects)
- Randomly assign students to Breakout Rooms
- Let students choose which room they want to join and move between rooms (great for casual discussions about a topic of interest, reading groups, or study groups — you can label rooms according to the topic)
- Give co-hosts the same ability as meeting hosts in Breakout Rooms
- Allow students to “ask for help,” giving you a notification to jump into their room
Got more questions? Here’s everything you need to know about using Breakout Rooms.
Harvard Professor Dan Levy, who wrote the book on “Teaching Effectively With Zoom,” shared during our Zoom Academy: Learn Anywhere session that in-meeting chat can be a powerful tool for teachers to engage with all students.
Chat enables students with different communication styles to be recognized, especially remote students and those who may not feel comfortable answering out loud. Use chat to:
- Ask a question and have everyone answer in chat instead of calling on one person
- You can quickly scan messages in the chat and answer questions in a particular order, call out responses that may lead to further discussion, and encourage students to read each others’ messages
- As one teacher suggested, you can assign a student to be a chat monitor and read questions in the chat out loud to the class
Keep in mind that you can customize chat settings and disable private chat access. That way, students can only chat publicly with the entire class or send a private chat to you, the teacher.
Digital whiteboard & annotation
Digital whiteboards and annotation features allow students to contribute equally in real-time and provide valuable feedback on other students’ work. Here are a few ideas for using virtual whiteboards and annotation:
- Ask a student to show their work on the board and have other students write questions or suggestions directly on the screen
- Show two different pictures on the screen and have students annotate next to the photo that best fits the lesson
- Write a prompt in the middle of the whiteboard and give students a few minutes to write their thoughts or draw a related picture
- Play a quick game of Pictionary (privately chat the student drawing with the word)
Setting ground rules for your hybrid classroom
Hybrid learning is a new experience for many students. Creating rules and guidelines for your hybrid classroom can help set expectations on how students should act and interact in this environment. Rules may include:
- Being mindful not to exclude remote students by speaking too quietly, staying muted, or blocking their view of the camera
- Addressing all students, not just those in the classroom
- Participating in activities on Zoom, like sending chat messages, responding to polls, and digitally annotating classmates’ work
- Turning cameras on during synchronous lessons
- Encouraging students to use reactions and non-verbal feedback as a way to communicate and stay engaged
Want more guidance and ideas for hybrid teaching and learning environments? Stay tuned for Part 2 — we’ll be sharing design inspiration and hardware recommendations for setting up your own hybrid learning space.