Teaching online still requires us to apply principles of effective practice and a key principle for effective online learning & teaching is careful planning…
1- Have a clear aim in mind when you are planning your session. Without a doubt, the platform you use has a lot of different, interesting functionalities but check when you plan carefully 1)how things flow: how easy it so move from one screen to the other so you are prepared and know how things work and 2)if all these ‘moves’ aid your overall lesson aims? Plan backwards, start your planning with activities that are relevant to the main aims of the lesson so you know how much time you have left for an interesting lead-in or practice stage using some new functionalities.
2- Make sure that you have realistic expectations of how long activities take. Remember, activities need clear instructions (set, model & check) and if you use breakout rooms it might take some time to get all learners going. You might want to pop into each breakout room to check before getting all learners back to the main room and conducting feedback. So when planning, allow for each stage some extra time in case technical glitches occur. You can always provide a quick filler at the end if you have time left!
3- Prepare your materials. Have your coursebooks ready with stickies indicating the pages you need, have your slides open, listening tracks ready and your props handy. I strongly suggest you have a Plan B just in case. Maybe create a Padlet or Dropbox with the necessary materials which learners can access if needed. Or have the tracks on your phone or tablet ready to play. Have pen & paper handy to take notes and have a mini-white board (MWB) & marker ready; just in case the sound stops working and the chatbox freezes you can scribble something on the MWB and hold it up to the camera. Planning carefully will give you more confidence to try out different activities and experiment with new functionalities.
Remember, your plan is there to help learners learn more effectively and support effective delivery, but whilst teaching ‘read’ your learners so you can be responsive to their emerging needs as not everything will go according to plan…. and that’s completely fine!