I fell off my chair during my online class!

Happy Asian woman in hijab raising arms and stretching body while working with laptop in cozy cafe
Image Source: Bigstockphoto.com

Teachers have always been associated with having a lot of movement in their workplace. The nature of teaching and checking on students always allowed teachers to be ambulant and move around the classroom. However, COVID-19 has sent most ESL teachers home and behind their laptops all day long. Besides physical issues that sedentary behaviour can bring to everyone, it can affect the creativity and eagerness of teachers despite their good intentions. Here are five tips for those at home who feel the pain in their back and knees and want a change!

Place your laptop in a higher position.

We need to stick to our laptops but not necessarily to our desks! I have tried to place my laptop on a bookshelf where I need to stand and at times walk in front of the screen. This gives me more freedom of movement and ability to be seen fully by my students while explaining with my gestures.

Break times are no longer for resting.

We used to become physically tired in class and sit down and relax with a cup of coffee during break times. Now, with prolonged sitting time during class, break times should be devoted to exercising. From stretching out to doing jumping jacks, any type of physical activity (PA) would be beneficial.  

Share the excitement with the students.

It’s not just the teachers; students also need to have PA during class time. If you want to boost their mood, there are some websites that may come in handy. Gonoodle, for instance, has lots of clips for this purpose, which can be used with our ESL students, to cheer them up while they get a bit of PA. Some other sites I like include Fitness Hustle TV, YMCA 360: On-Demand Videos and Yoga with Adriene.

Share the real board not the screen board. 

It is nice to have a whiteboard or blackboard at home and teach through writing on your board every now and then. The only concern would be whether you can adjust your camera to make sure the content on the board is clear and visible to the students.

Don’t forget your wireless headset!

For sure when you step away from your screen, keeping voices audible is a must. A wireless headset lets you keep your distance from the screen if you need to stand and teach.

Greetings to all colleagues and readers! I’m Azi. I teach EAP and Business Bridging Course at ICEAP Toronto, King’s College Campus. I’m also an ESL Instructor at London District Catholic School Board. After about 10 years of overseas teaching experience and degrees in Linguistics, my second master’s in TESOL from Western University brushed up my skills and knowledge in the field. Later I became a TESL Trainer both in Theory and Methodology and thrive to see new techniques and strategies to help learners. I believe in fun as the core incentive in learning a second language. I am a mom to a little princess and I mostly spend my spare time with her. I’ve moved to a fully online delivery method during the COVID-19 pandemic in both of the courses I teach, so I have a lot to share!! I am so delighted to be a part of the TESL Blog team


6 thoughts on “I fell off my chair during my online class!”

  1. Hello Azi,

    Thank you for your tips! They are very useful. Unfortunately, I am not teaching at the moment, but I did teach online from March until August: I know exactly what you are talking about! Also, I am currently spending a lot of hours at my desk, job hunting. I, sometimes, forget how important it is to take frequent short breaks to move around! Thanks for the reminder. I’d like to add to your list a nice brisk walk around the block!
    Take care and thanks again 🙂
    Daniela Greco-Giancola

    1. Hi Daniela,
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me. I agree that sedentary workstyle doesn’t belong to teachers only. Everyone is having the same problem. However, Teachers are not used to this lifestyle, and this is a totally new expereince for us. For sure taking a short walk will help. And thanks for the reminder! Short breaks are absolutely better than 1 long break!
      Good luck with your job hunt!!

  2. Hello Azi,
    These are extremely relevant tips! I am doing a lot of volunteering and some assessing and tutoring while sitting on my desk, and can truly understand the perils of being sedentary all day long. I too like the idea of walking around after certain intervals. And thanks for sharing the websites, some of which I was not aware of. The other day I also noticed many desk exercises were mentioned in the Self Care video of TESL Ontario that was uploaded on the YouTube channel. I believe they will be useful too. Do take care and stay safe.
    Cheers ,

    1. Hi Paramita,

      Thanks a lot for your response! I do agree with all you mentioned. I’ve checked the Self Care video of TESL Ontario and it was a great resouce! All the mindfulness tips apply to our online life nowadays and the exercises will definately reduce some stress that we carry due to this unprecedented time.
      Thanks again Paramita!
      Take care and hope to get connected at TESL Exchange Video Series!

      1. Hi Azi,
        Thanks so much for responding and clearly looking forward to your participating in the TESL Exchange Video Series!
        Stay safe,

Comments are closed.