Tips for your virtual classroom setup
When I first started teaching online I was pretty clueless as to how to create a comfortable virtual classroom setup. I worked in a spare bedroom in the basement. Eventually I got rid of the spare bed and dresser. I bought a standing desk, an extra table, two office chairs, and a small file cabinet. I didn’t even realize how uncomfortable my old setup was until I converted my spare bedroom into an actual office space. Bear in mind I didn’t make this transition until I could afford it and I knew working from home was going to be long-term for me.
Choosing your virtual classroom location
The main reason I chose the spare bedroom is because it was the most remote location in my house. I could teach there without waking anyone up and without any background noise from family. Most of us didn’t foresee working from home. I have seen some people teaching in bathrooms, from the couch or in closets. I know not everyone has a spare bedroom, so I definitely consider myself lucky in that regard.
You have to make it work for you, whatever that looks like. If you’re interested in increasing your income so you can move to a bigger home down the road, check out my post on financial abundance or passive income for educators.
Virtual classroom equipment
Even if you do have a lot of background noise from family, a good noise-canceling headset should be one of the first things you get related to virtual classroom equipment. They seriously work! My students never complain about background noise. I use the Jabra Evolve headset (check it out here).
You might also like blue light blocking glasses. It’s not good look at the computer for hours. The blue light in computers is said to cause eye strain, but there’s not a lot of research proving that. However, with the amount of work I do on the computer I do have prescription glasses that also block blue light.
computer recommendations for teaching virtually
Another crucial piece of equipment you need for online teaching is an up-to-date computer. Honestly, I didn’t want to spend the money on this when I first started, but I knew it would be a necessity because my laptop was six years old. It was starting to lag and the camera on it wasn’t high-quality.
If you need recommendations for a headset or laptop I have a few options in my Amazon shop here.
lighting for your virtual classroom
The thing with lighting is that sometimes, it stinks! People can really struggle with this, but recently I helped my sister figure out her lighting and you’d be surprised what we used. Initially she had these lamps with no shade glaring brightly into her eyes. They started making her eyes sensitive to light even when she wasn’t teaching. I was like, “I hope those lamps aren’t damaging your eyesight!”
It dawned on me that I never bought that style lamp, I just used some old nightstand lamps. I gave them to her. She put one on each side of her desktop computer and her light is perfect now without causing her headaches!
The Best desk and chair for teaching online
I used to teach on a dresser and a small foldable table. In 2018 I finally bought a standing desk that lowers and raises electronically. It was probably the best business purchases I bought because it saved me from back pain.
My chair was another super important business purchase. I bought two different types of chairs. One is your average desk chair and the other one raises up higher like a stool. I use the higher one more often because it goes with my standing desk.
My favorite background for teaching online
It used to be mandatory to use the iTutorGroup backdrop, but they got a bit more lenient and allowed teachers to hang the logo as long as you have a cute, educational background. I waited around a bit before I bought a map. It is geared towards kids, but the colors make it more mature, at least that’s what I tell myself. I asked my adult students what they thought and they told me they thought it was cute. I mean what else could they say? 😂 Anyway, if you’re in need of a cute teacher background here’s my affiliate link.
Digital Software to engage students during e-learning
There is a lot of virtual classroom technology to consider. Digital software is a great way to increase student engagement during e-learning. However, I never enjoyed using it because my computer didn’t handle it well. Mmm… maybe I didn’t handle it well either.
In any case, if you are a tech savy person, here are a few options you might enjoy: Manycam, Camtwist and OBS. Being that I’m not using any of this software on a regular basis I recommend heading over to YouTube for some tutorials if this piques your interest.
If you plan to tutor your own students, use Zoom because there is a digital whiteboard and it’s easy to screen share. There’s also a chat box. It’s pretty user-friendly as well.
Internet speed for teaching or working online
I was telling my friend who is a brick and mortar teacher that she needed to upgrade her Internet speed because her Zoom connection was always spotty. She thought it might be expensive, but I told her that it really doesn’t cost much to upgrade your Internet speed. So, if that’s what’s holding you back, get on the phone right now with your Internet Service Provider and upgrade to the option you feel most comfortable with. For me, I choose the highest option because my office is far away from my router. Also, we tend to have issues with the Internet speed lowering at times. If I have the highest speed, it doesn’t affect me when the speed drops.
The most important thing for teaching virtually
Now that you’ve learned all of the logistics for your virtual teaching setup, let’s not forget that the most important thing for teaching online is you! In the end it’s about making connections with our students and teaching them a life-long skill, well, at least that’s my mission and I assume your’s is similar.
Keep it up! I’m rooting for you.
Here’s a recap of what you need for your virtual classroom setup: