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Teachers are allowed to be creative when it comes to deciding their online teaching background. While some teachers like to go bold and prove they have the ‘wow’ factor in their online teaching background, other teachers prefer to keep it minimal.
It’s up to every individual teacher what they want their background to look like, and it helps their personality and style shine through. What’s more, it can serve as an invite to a student to book a class with that teacher.
How do you create a classroom background?
Creating a classroom background will depend on who you are teaching and what the company wants to see for your background.
Some online teaching companies like to see a plain white background, while others, like VIPKid, want you to add a splash of color with some fun props, print, or company logo.
Whatever online teaching background you choose, you want to make sure it aligns with company policy and is a comfortable space for your students to engage with you.
Online Teaching Background Ideas
When deciding about your online teaching background, consider some of the following items and how you could potentially incorporate them:
There are so many options you can choose from! Let’s describe them below so you can pick the best online teaching background for you.
1. Teacher Name
Make sure your online teacher background has this!
You can add your name to your teacher’s background. It is very easy to log in to Canva and create a design in minutes.
How to create your teacher name design?
Log in to Canva and type “teacher name” in the search bar. You can choose from many different designs and make your own edits to the font, colors, and style.
If you want to create a design and resize it to your liking, you could pay for the pro version of Canva or simply head over to Photopea.com. Add your design and change the size to suit your teaching background.
We want the teaching background to contain your name if possible because this helps brand yourself, so students are more likely to remember you. This is why it is a great idea to create a nameplate for yourself.
On Photopea, click file and open to open the template you saved from Canva.
Then click File, export as, PNG and choose your custom dimensions. Click Save. You can now print it out at your custom size.
Just be sure that students can easily read it, even if they are in the tiny box on the screen. My current name template is A4 size and has bold capital letters.
2. Company Name
Sometimes companies like you to keep their name in the background. However, this is not mandatory. While it seemed to be the trend for some time, many companies know that teachers are independent contractors and may work for multiple teaching companies, so they don’t seem to require this.
Still, if you want to add the company logo to your background, it is always an option. Just Google search the company’s logo and print it out.
This is a very easy classroom background idea that the company won’t have any problem with!
You may also be interested in: The Best English Teaching Companies in 2022.
Save your big classroom background for another day. As you are teaching online and only sit in a box at the corner of the screen, an A4 sized whiteboard is your best bet.
Some online teachers keep their whiteboard out of sight while others like to keep it propped up in the background.
Teachers can write the date on their whiteboard or could decorate it with their secondary reward system, or some magnetic flashcards.
While I think this is a lovely idea, if the whiteboard becomes a design tool for your classroom background, you may want to have another whiteboard for writing on. You could also consider using a corkboard.
However, there is nothing that speaks more true to a classroom than the whiteboard itself. It’s always a valuable part of the teachers arsenal!
4. Posters or Tapestry
I say Posters or Tapestry because these are two distinctively different things but they could have similar designs. It’s all down to your current classroom background and what it is best able to handle.
Posters are great and I’ve used several in my online teaching classrooms. I like having a poster for the alphabet or a world map poster.
Many online teachers like to adapt to the tapestry and I can see why. When you are traveling and trying to cover your background, a tapestry is lightweight and can be useful even when teaching in a camper van.
The posters can also chip the paint on your wall if you are constantly taking them down for different teaching companies with different classroom background requirements. (A mistake I made before I decided to get a notice board to stick the posters on.)
Tapestries don’t really allow for you to add many other things to your teaching background, so they have their cons too.
However, both have their benefits of creating a colorful classroom background, and it’s really a choice for individual teachers to make for themselves what they want to use.
5. Tri-fold Board
A tri-fold board is something I think about seeing at a science fair, but online teachers use this to their advantage too.
Consider this: you don’t have a wall behind you, but glaring sunlight. There is a shadow on your face, and with your current teaching environment you can’t find a wall for your classroom background.
A trifold board can be a little expensive but it pays off down the line by serving as your own unique classroom teaching wall. You can fold it up (as the name suggests) and bring it with you wherever you go.
This means that you don’t have to worry about where in the house you are going to sit and if you have to sit away from the wifi just to find a good space for your online teaching classroom.
You can set up your classroom no matter where in the room you decide to teach.
If times are tough, consider getting an inexpensive, white sheet. You will need something to hang up the white sheet, but you can have your own affordable classroom background with that sorted.
White background? Check!
When we talk about language, we are often talking about culture, customs, and the world. Language connects us to each other, no matter where we are from.
When teachers ask students where they are from, they like to hold up their Chinese flag. They can also use banners when talking about cultural differences and keep a poster of a flag or wave a physical flag for the children to see.
8. Musical Instruments
There is nothing like a teacher with musical talent! While I don’t have any musical talent, many teachers like to keep their musical instruments close at hand.
If teachers can incorporate some music into the lesson when there is a break or a song playing, students will love to sing along and enjoy the musical beat.
9. Printed Background
I was often confused about how teachers did this, so it wasn’t something I had ever considered, but I think it’s a great idea.
If you have a PDF file of a background that you like a lot, you can send your design off to Vistaprint or some other kind of printing company and get them to print it out
You can download a copy of the classroom background you want from Canva or Teachers Pay Teachers. They have great custom designs you can choose from.
You can upload your file to Vistaprint and select the appropriate size and layout. Vistaprint will then print your big background for you, and you can add it as your teaching background!
I uploaded an example to Vistaprint, and it looks like an A0 poster costs around £27.
10. Green Screen
Teachers may prefer to opt for the green screen. The green screen can be manipulated digitally to produce an image of the teachers’ choosing.
You will need software for chroma keying. The chroma key allows you to change the screen to any background the teacher wishes.
Here’s a video to show you how the green screen works:
Software that allows you to create the green screen effect
Manycam is more than just a green screen and holds many benefits for the online ESL classroom.
Zoom: if you use Zoom for your online teaching classroom, you can change your background with a virtual background of your choosing.
You may not even need a green screen to do this. If you are teaching online with a company with its own platform, you won’t be able to use Zoom and its features.
Screencast-o-matic ($20 per year) and Open Broadcaster Software (free) are also tools that you can use for the computer whiz. We recommend trying Manycam as it has lots of features geared towards online teaching and is simple to use.
11. String Lights
To make your classroom look even prettier, you can design it with some Christmas or string lighting. The lighting can make your classroom appear welcoming and add a nice design element if you don’t have much going on in your classroom background.
You should always make sure that you have good lighting your classroom, so your students can see you clearly, no matter what time of the day.
Manycam has an array of frames that teachers can use for their online classroom. If the teacher doesn’t have an appropriate setup and their class starts in just a moment, it’s useful setting up a classroom frame on Manycam.
This requires the standard version of Manycam, and teachers can easily find something kid-friendly with a vast array of frames to choose from.
If the flashcards explain a word you are learning that day, you can always point to the flashcards in your background, so you can still use them to their benefit without having to sort through the stack to find the relevant flashcard.
14. Use your Bitmoji
Bitmoji is a phone app that you can use to create designs of yourself. You simply take a picture of yourself, and the app designs the cartoon version of yourself.
You can then install the Bitmoji Chrome extension on your desktop and use your signature Bitmoji in all your designs. You can copy and paste your bitmoji into your powerpoints, word docs, Canva templates, and more.
It can also be used when designing your teaching background and adds a fun element to your class.
15. Use Available Materials at Home
If you are a DIY person and enjoy drawing and crafts, this could be the option for you. Very budget-friendly, simply think of a character or design you like, draw it and stick it up on your wall.
You can make anything you want and stick it to your wall, whether that’s banners, emojis, or animals; the list is endless.
While there are many things teachers could buy, teachers don’t have to feel pressured to purchasing items for their classroom background.
The classroom background can be simple with just one or two elements, or it can be a whole world for kids to explore.
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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.