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Igniting learning with Hybrid Teaching

❝The spark in a student’s mind that is ignited❞.

❝Bubbles, facemasks, and reduced class sizes❞ 


Of Students

❝from disadvantaged backgrounds did not have a computer❞ ~


Of Students

❝retain more material when learning online❞ ~

❝Flying into Zoom math lessons and back out to the Classroom❞

Igniting learning with Hybrid Teaching


During lockdown and COVID-19, I along with so many other educators, had to quickly adapt to the disruption and change brought about by the Pandemic in both our personal lives, work, and education.

Adapting to a new model of ‘hybrid learning’, meant time spent at home, prepping and teaching whole classes online via Zoom or Google Classroom, returning to a very different learning environment of Bubbles, facemasks, and much-reduced class sizes as restrictions eased.

Flying into Zoom maths lessons and back out to the Classroom, like superwoman or superman with many capes – teachers faced a truly unique set of circumstances and challenges with what often felt like impossible odds and the niggling question in the back of our minds – how to engage students remotely when so much time pre-covid was about the formal classroom being “present” and the interactive whiteboard?

Being a teacher of Languages, having face to face classes means being able to use Voice, body language, hand gestures to complement the presentation of new knowledge and key vocabulary; even the teacher “stare” or those confused facial expressions of students unsure of a new concept, are all part of that toolkit teachers learn to leverage as successful teachers right from the start – something I found more challenging to practice online.

I see the classroom as uniquely placed to facilitate spontaneous, unplanned learning and interaction – it is a place where questions are posed, learning opportunities sought and exploration encouraged, and certainly has a greater impactful for many students; the spark in a student’s mind that is ignited as a concept is finally grasped is there to see right in front of you, but only measurable online via the hand-raising button.

Teaching online with the technology at our fingertips is a wonderfully exciting prospect too, however, and gave e and the students that really rich opportunity to go into depth much more with maths, e.g. teaching machine learning for Matlab, exploring conjectures using Ramanujanmachine, going beyond the more traditional curriculum of a classroom, to really promote a deeper level of learning.

Online teaching is a gift, too in many ways. Students and teachers can explore so much more of the web to expand inquisitive minds. Lockdown was an opportunity to do just that – explore new learning Edtech tools, which you don’t necessarily have the time to fully embrace in classrooms.

I could go for coffee and have a break between classes, check my email all before my start of the next lesson.


I didn’t have to leave the house. I didn’t have to drive. It was refreshing. It wasn’t for everyone I admit, many struggled with the tech and being unable to see students face to face, being there to support them, being the point of Contact, being the mentor, there if at-risk students were struggling or felt unsafe. Having a chat on Q&A on Zoom certainly wasn’t enough.

Upon reflection, I do believe a hybrid model is definitely worth investing some thought into going forward and could reap benefits for particular students. A mixture of catch-up classes in the holidays or summer vacation, and then back into school continues with the core curriculum would really enable students to excel. Particularly for those students that struggle in a formal classroom environment.

What you missed however were those moments of connection and understanding

Students with special educational needs excelled during the lockdown, the introverted quiet students could really shine at home with parental support. Their attendance shot up, their performance was outstanding. Anxiety was not an issue, the barriers to learning were gone. Whilst at home, in your own environment with parents or guardians there for support, if needed or your brother or sister, many students thrive.

Some students and certainly I as a teacher felt the calm transition with remote teaching had huge benefits. What you missed however were those moments of connection and understanding, the questioning and inquisitive nature of the learning environment.

You are really are at the behest of chat and Q&A online, and a decent broadband connection, and from my own very real experience of losing a classroom of 100 students online – if only for a brief moment, is not for the faint of heart!

From languages, the perspective conversation is fundamental, between student and teacher, mentor and student, and often teaching online can lead to misunderstanding. a classroom and school are for students and gives them a voice, something that isn’t catered to with online learning in large groups.

There are some incredibly rewarding moments, and excellent learning opportunities, trying to manage the Chatbox for over 100 students is a feat in itself and provided some light relief when they thanked you for the class or parents joining in with the weekly Kahoot quiz, was wonderful, a fantastic learning curve.

The internet is at your disposal online, for example with teaching languages, you have translation tools, news websites live videos, audio, museum archives, digital books, you have your classroom at your fingertips, that is an exciting prospect and I’m looking forward to combining more hybrid learning in the future.


Sam Wigglesworth

Member of the DataEthics4All Think Tank Community, Teacher of languages, Data Analytics, and Software Project Management, Founder and CEO of GirlsandBoysInTech & The Language School