You do need a nice background when teaching online with an online teaching company like VIPKID, SayABC or Magic Ears. The real question is however, do you need to go all out and create something overly complicated and expensive?
There are so many budget ideas our teachers use for their online classes and in this teacher background for online classes buying guide, we’re going to share with you some of the best, most practical things you can use for your online class.
Your Background Needs to Be Distraction Free
At a minimum, your background needs to be distraction free. No dirty laundry, no random objects not related to teaching, no messy bed or posters. While most teachers opt for creating a nice background for their class, some teachers skip out on this and just go with a plain old wall or the room items behind them.
This is fine, but it’s always a good idea to add something teaching related at a minimum.
Make a Unique Background
If you’ve been watching various online teaching personalities you’ll have noticed that they all sort of copy each other.
It’s a great idea to follow best practices but remember, you want to stand out more than blend in. Particularly when it comes to platforms like VIPKID where the parents take care of the booking.
Keep it simple
Thoughtful backgrounds with various teaching objects are wonderful. If you have the space to build out a little classroom then go for it. But at the same time, don’t stress too much over creating some sort of overly complicated background. It’s fine to keep it simple.
A few personal items like photos of a class you taught or that team you coach and a few teaching related props are fine. As long as it looks like you made an effort to create a unique background.
7 Online Class Background Ideas for Online Teachers
So what are some of the best background ideas for your online class? Here is Teach and Go’s list of the most helpful and essential background ideas for teaching online:
- Tri Fold Board
- ESL Items
Maps – The standard background item
The simplest background item to use is a world map. Maps are affordable, easy to carry and easy to hang up on any wall or whiteboard. Maps make your online class look a bit more like a classroom and can help form the basic setup for your online teaching background for online class.
Consider getting a map that is big but not too big. You don’t want it to dominate the entire background, you just want it to be an element of your background that adds color, purpose and relevancy for you as a teacher.
We suggest a classroom friendly map that is colorful but appropriate for all ages.
Flags – States flags or the national flag
Flags are a fun way to decorate your teaching background. A flag is not only colorful, it also allows you to show off a little bit of your personality. One of our teachers from New Mexico hangs the New Mexico state flag as part of his online teaching background as well as the American flag.
He teaches and goes, so a flag is a nice simple thing to carry in a backpack with you as you travel to help make up your teacher background. You can get various lawn flags at any big box store like Wal-Mart or you can order a proper flag online that is a big bigger. Including state flags.
In addition to a map, a flag is a wonderful and relevant addition to your teaching background.
Whiteboards – The essential item for any teacher
Whiteboards are one of those things that any teacher will find useful. While we have a dedicated guide to the best whiteboards for teachers, the ideal whiteboard for a teaching background should be a small and affordable whiteboard.
The way teachers use small whiteboards as part of their teaching background is for something simple like writing their name, the date as well as pictures or the name of the online teaching company they are with.
ABC’s Wall Decor – The kid friendly background
Depending on the type of students you normally teach, this can be a good idea or a really bad idea. A big mistake a lot of online teachers make is to “baby” the students a bit too much.
Not every ESL learner with an online teaching company is a 5 year old. 9 year old kids don’t appreciate being treated like a small child and this applies to your background. If your normal student age you teach is 4-7 then go with a kid friendly background like posting the ABC’s.
If your students tend to be a bit older, then I would not include this as part of your background. It’s your call.
We like this ABC wall decor option because it’s got a classic design perfect for any age of student.
Lighting – Have good lighting for online class
Lighting is essential for online class as you want to look fresh faced and energetic. You do this by having the right set of lights not only on you as a teacher, but also decent lighting behind you to show off your background.
For lighting you have a few options. You may want to consider having lighting as part of your background. For this I suggest the following:
- Christmas lights
- Panel Light
- Stage light
- Ring light
Christmas Lights – Cheap and easy background option
Christmas lights, particularly plain white lights make for an excellent background option. They make your background more bright an beautiful and they are an affordable option.
Christmas lights also come in really handy if you find yourself teaching early mornings and want a nice soft light in your classroom instead of those ugly, harsh fluorescent lights that most homes have.
Panel Light – The colorful option
Ever watch a YouTube video an notice that they have a colorful light in the background. Colors like purple, red or green. If you’re curious about how this is achieved, it’s done so by the use of a panel light or stage light.
A panel light is light that can be mounted on a camera or tossed into the background when you’re making a video. Panel lights are also used to compliment soft boxes which are professional grade lighting for proper video productions.
Stage Light – Colorful lighting for backgrounds
Stage lights are typically more expensive than panel lights but they are designed to be used as background lighting. Stage lights typically come in sets of 2 to 4 lights with the option to switch between various colors.
If you’re teaching online and are looking for something to add a lot of color without breaking the bank, consider getting a set of stage lights.
Ring light – Professional lighting for your face
If you’re teaching early in the morning and are in need of a light on your face consider getting a small, cost effective ring light. A lot of guides suggest overly complicated items for lighting for your face as you teach online.
As an online teacher who teaches early morning ESL classes, get yourself a small ring light and make your life easy.
Tri Fold Board – A unique background idea
While most teachers like the flag, map and lighting combination – a lot of teachers opt for a simple tri fold board. These boards can be decorated with ease with items related to online teaching. Stickers, pictures and different types of decorations can be added with ease.
The best part of a tri fold board too is that it folds up for ease storage and travel.
ESL Items – The personal touch
Last is to simply add items unique to you as a teacher. As part of my personal background I have various pictures of ESL classes I taught personally in Thailand. Like having state flag, it’s an excellent ideal to include any ESL items that add a personal touch of professionalism and fun to your background as a teacher.
Again, with your background you want to create something unique that stands out a bit. Too many teachers want to be told what to specifically do and miss the point that you were hired for your unique teaching style.
Embrace your uniqueness and provide a different experience when compared to other teachers. This is what the parents and students want. They don’t want carbon copies where all the teachers look the same and act the same. While it’s a good strategy to follow best practices as success leaves clues – do try to be yourself.
Conclusion – The best online teaching background ideas
So there you have it. Some of the best online teaching background ideas. While you don’t need everything on this list, the goal of this buying guide it to help you get a few select items that can help you craft a fun, colorful and simple background.
If you don’t know where to start I would begin by getting a one or two whiteboards. On the whiteboard write your name. Something like “teacher Nancy.” Then I would consider getting a map, and maybe the ABC’s if you’re teaching young learners.
Last I would get a small ring light as an essential item. They are not expensive and make your life easy when teaching early in the morning. You need good lighting on your face, get a light that is designed for this instead of lamp which won’t give you that bright, fresh faced look.
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