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After three years of teaching, I’ve realized there are a few things that every online teacher needs. These are the things I cannot live without and I recommend them to every online English teacher!
Many lessons later I built an arsenal of items that have become my everyday essentials. If you are working from home as an online English Teacher, here are the things you will need to get started:
Perhaps the most obvious item on the list for online English teachers is a laptop. When I started teaching full-time, I was still using my three-year-old college Toshiba. It had seen better days.
I always thought that I could stick with it but it slowed down a lot and it could take up to 15 minutes to start. It was causing me unnecessary stress and I ended up missing classes as a result.
I knew that I had to invest in a decent laptop if I wanted to start working from home. After hours of meticulous research, I found the perfect laptop.
This laptop looks very similar to a macbook without the hefty price tag. It’s also super-fast and efficient, the perfect size to fit in a small bag. The screen size itself is certainly the most optimal size for online teaching.
The sound quality is great through my headphones, the 720p webcam is a teaching standard. I bought an HD webcam separately.
It honestly made me a lot more time-efficient because the laptop is fast and you can get so much more work done. It really was a game-changer when teaching online. I’ve also edited videos and photos on it without a problem. I couldn’t be happier with my choice.
Not what you’re looking for? Check out some more laptop options for teachers here.
I decided that I was sick of headphones after buying one of the highest-rated ones on amazon. They didn’t cover my ears properly, they felt heavy and they were uncomfortable. The padding was way too thick and my delicate ears felt punctured. So I decided to invest in the Battlebuds headset.
These earphones are equipped with a mic and designed to clip into the ear, so they don’t slip out like regular ones. The staff at Gamestop recommended them to me, they were brand new and they were waiting to stock them. They gave me the only box they had. Honestly, these were a game-changer and I NEVER went back to headphones again.
They are like earphones and they come with different ear tip sizes so you can find the perfect fit. The mic can be attached and removed and if they are good enough for a hard-core gamer, they are good enough for me.
I HIGHLY recommend these if you find your current headset uncomfortable. They are a good choice for people who wear glasses too as they don’t press against them like regular headphones. I’ve had them for several months now and the audio is crystal clear. They also go unnoticed, which is nice as I always felt kind of silly wearing big blocky headphones.
You can get them for the same price on Amazon here:
I know you might be laughing right now but… get a desk that will hold your things. Seriously. An online English teacher has every prop known to man. The question is: how do you organize it all?! Well let me tell you; the desk is your foundation.
I bought a desk that has since been made unavailable on Amazon. It is, however, similar to the one in the image below.
The L-shape table holds all my props on one side and I can fetch them during class when the need arises. It also looks as aesthetically pleasing and has lots of storage space, so mission accomplished! Feel free to find a desk you like or buy separate storage containers.
These are one of the treasures you may never even think about until it’s too late! I realized that sitting in front of a screen all day was wreaking havoc on my posture. My lower back hurt and I was leaning towards my laptop without noticing.
When you are at home and nobody can see how you are sitting, it is very easy to cross your legs or sit on your legs. Whatever bad posture habit you may have can take a toll on your body in the long run.
I found that investing in a proper laptop stand propped my laptop perfectly to my eye level. It helped me improve my posture too because it gave me a reason to sit up straight. I was no longer looking downwards at a screen but looking in an upright position.
This also helped me look better on-screen too. You can adjust the angle of the stand so that you are always level with the webcam. By positioning it this way, the student can feel as if they were looking straight at you.
Please note: I tried changing the height before by putting big books under my laptop. This isn’t actually effective because your arms will get tired from reaching for the keys. The laptop stands are useful because you aren’t putting the same pressure on your arms or shoulders at an angle. Get a laptop stand – there are many variations on amazon.
Depending on the time you teach, you may consider purchasing strong, efficient lighting. The light I bought is so perfect for picture taking that I no longer need to assign a photographer when I am going out on a night out! Instead, I use this bad boy.
You can adjust it to whatever height you want, along with choosing the exact brightness and type of color. Are you looking for a more golden look today or do you want the white light? I’d consider using a light like this if you plan to get up at 5am or teach in the dark evenings.
This light doesn’t create any harsh shadows and can be adjusted to suit. This is used by many people who need professional lighting, so you can be sure to look like a superstar (or YouTuber)!
A more affordable way to do this, without all the bells and whistles, is this selfie ring light. You can attach it to your laptop and it is a great way to add classroom lighting.
If you don’t already wear glasses, I highly recommend anti-blue light glasses. If you haven’t heard, blue light from phones and laptops can actually cause vision problems over time. It can cause retinal damage and interferes with your sleep cycle.
To help prevent this, I decided to buy anti-blue light glasses. They have filters in their lenses that block or absorb blue light I don’t actually wear these during class time (my glasses look funny) but they are great for anyone who uses technology.
The main benefits I’ve noticed are that my eyes no longer feel strained and I am able to fall asleep earlier. I also have ordinary glasses too but I don’t actually wear them very often because my eyes don’t depend on them. I prefer to wear the anti-blue light glasses when working on tasks online and in the evenings before bed.
Teddy bears are great, sure, but puppets are the next level. It really creates a buzz when young learners see a puppet talking to them on the other side of the screen. Kids love to play and the more we can incorporate ‘play’ into the lesson, the more the kids enjoy learning English.
Puppets can be purchased cheaply or you can make your own with a few simple materials. You can own more than one to add a bit of variety to your regular student’s classes. Young kids absolutely love these and they will be laughing a lot. For more props for your teaching classroom, check out this resource.
I highly suggest writing a journal every day. Not the sort of the ‘dear diary’ journal, although that’s also an option!
Staying disciplined when working at home can be a hard task. If you can keep a list of things you need to get done each day, it will help you focus much better and achieve your goals. The practice of ticking off tasks from a journal as you complete them is said to give you a boost of dopamine. Who doesn’t love dopamine?!
I regularly write down new ideas and lists of things I need to do. It’s also a good place to write down English grammar rules or vocabulary. I can refer to these when I am teaching specific lessons.
Whiteboards are good for young learners. A little whiteboard can be used as a secondary rewards system. For example, you could draw an apple tree and every time the student answers correctly, you could add another apple to the tree. Or you could take one away if they are misbehaving.
The whiteboard can also be used to explain certain things, such as how to write the letter A.
Have you more uses for a whiteboard in class? Let me know in the comments section below!
Using the touchpad on your laptop is a complete waste of time, trust me. It took me so long to perform simple tasks in the online classroom.
For a long time, I was under the ignorant impression that the mouse doesn’t make a difference. It makes everything 10x faster and trust me you need it in the fast-paced online classroom.
You can plug one into the SS drive but a Bluetooth mouse also does wonders and it will save you from one extra ugly wire.
If you are a teacher and don’t drink coffee, I am in awe. I drink it before I start teaching each day. I think the caffeine is necessary to keep up with the energy levels of an eight year old child. I also find I need it for adult group sessions.
One or two cups a day is enough for me, but if you drink more I won’t judge 😉 I think coffee deserves a very formidable mention.
That concludes my list of supplies that all online English teachers need! Is there any other things that you cannot survive without when working at home? Let me know in the comments section below!