Hybrid classroom management - Germany


I am a trainer for pedagogy/educational psychology at the seminar in Tübingen for training and further training of teachers at grammar schools. The training at our school looks like this: we usually see the trainee teachers once a week for about 2 hours over a year in the subject session. I have been a trainer at the seminary for about 14 years, and I have also been working in teacher training in the BA/MA programme at the University of Tübingen for about 10 years.

All the trainers continue to teach as teachers at a Gymnasium. As a teacher, I have studied the subjects German, Biology, Ethics and Psychology and am currently teaching Psychology. I have been a teacher for more than 20 years.


I would like to report on the current situation in my subject sessions at the seminary. We have had face-to-face teaching again since February 2022. However, face-to-face teaching is different from the one I knew before the Corona pandemicthis : My typical teaching situation now looks like this: sometimes individual trainee teachers sign off beforehand and ask me to connect them online (i.e. hybrid). Sometimes I only find out in the morning, when the subject session starts, from fellow trainees that Ms. XY is unable to attend that day and asks to be connected hybrid. . I have some trainee teachers in my course who are coming back from parental leave or who are doing their traineeship part-time. So I have a lot of them, mainly mothers, but also one father in the course. This means that they often ask for the hybrid procedure not because of their own illness, but because of the sick children. And that's why I actually I can't remember the last time I had a session where I really had everybody in the room and nobody was connected online.

As this is often the case, I can't plan a specific setting (online or present), but have to act flexibly in the moment. This is sometimes exhausting, especially if you want to plan your subject sessions well so that all trainees can learn. Sometimes it is also complicated by the fact that those who join in have different needs.

In what ways did you respond to this dilemma/difficulty?

Some actually write to me "Oh, I'm actually sick. And if that didn't give me the opportunity to participate in debates, I would just be sick and at home. That's why it would be great if I could just listen. I don't want to turn on my mic, nor do I want to say anything or think. I don't want to be seen either. But it would be great if I could hear the familiar voices. And maybe I'll even catch something." With those it's always quite easy, because then I can actually just let the system run along. But then there are also some who are in quarantine, who are fit, want to work and yes, you have to integrate them and keep them busy. And depending on whether there are three of them, so to speak, I can let them work online as a team of three in the work phases. Or if it's only one person, I have to make sure that they are integrated into a presence group.

For me, the most important principle here is to say goodbye to perfection and instead try to bring about flexibility. So I try to create situations in the planning that are good for the people who are there in presence, but that also have connection possibilities for the people I call in.

It also helps a lot that many of the trainee teachers are very self-responsible in dealing with this hybrid situation. They dare to tell me how they would like it: "I just want to listen" or "I would like to participate". I think that's very good because I think they are adults, motivated, want to learn something and therefore they can also take responsibility for their own learning process.

I also find it important that the technology usually works well. That's very easy in input phases. I can simply share the lecture that I want to show in person via the video conference. The people who want to actively participate online are then also visible via the video conference when they switch on their camera. Then the group sees each other. And if the people at home want to say something on the screen, it is very simple. Then they raise their hand. Most of the time I notice it and if I miss it, someone from the course in the room sees it. It's more difficult when people from home join in but don't want to turn on their camera. Then it can happen that they suddenly interrupt you over the microphone.

In general, I have found that the plenary phases with input and questions/discussions should be kept rather short in hybrid lessons. I like to work with several group work phases. Then I can also check with the people who are only connected online to see if they have heard everything.

In any case, I find such a buddy system very helpful and important. I never thought about that before. Because sometimes there are sessions where the technology doesn't work well. For example, I had a session last week where I couldn't hear the participants who were online. However, all three could hear me, hear each other and they could write in the chat. So we were able to communicate. But that is a challenging situation when you communicate with the group in presence and then also read the chat. Here the buddy system was very, very helpful. There was another person logged into the room for the online participants who followed the chat and reported when the online participants had written something.

What are the implications for teaching, learning and my understanding of the role of a teacher?

I think I look at how individuals are doing even more than before. How are they coping? The subject content remains important, of course, but I try to differentiate even more depending on what the trainee teachers need. What is actually new is that the trainee teachers also contact me during the week and that I now also sometimes discuss a problem during the week via a video conference or by phone. I have more enquiries via e-mails.

What has also changed, of course, even if it is almost banal, is that I deal more with technical issues. I have the ambition to manage this to a certain extent, technically, so that the trainees can all participate and so that the subject meeting goes well. This is now always running like a second level, so to speak. So when I implement a system, I always discuss how they can do it in the school and what special function does it have for the pupils? Or why do I use this or that technical tool now, but will perhaps do it differently with pupils, for such and such reasons? Exactly that has also changed completely. Before, I rarely talked about technology with the trainee teachers. But it's no longer that first technology phase, when it was really just about how does it work? Instead, it's about the pedagogical applications.

Keywords: technical skills, online classroom management, online, chat behaviour, student autonomy, well being

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