#171: How to Teach & Work Online — 5 Tools to Get Started

Mar 19, 2020 | Special Confident English Lesson

With an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, schools are closing and teachers have been asked to teach online. Many employees are staying home to telework for the very first time.

If you’ve never taught online, you may be feeling stressed about how to get started and whether you’ll be able to teach effectively in an online classroom.

If you’re trying to work from home, you may feel disorganized and unproductive.

I’m here to help.

I started teaching online over 10 years ago.

When I got started, I had the same concerns. But I can assure you, teaching online isn’t as hard as you may think AND you can have effective, meaningful online classes with your students.

This is also true for engaging with colleagues online for teleworking purposes.

In this video, I share my Top 5 Tools to Teach and Work Online. On March 13, I created this video for many of my friends who are teachers and now I want to share it with you as well.

In the notes below, I’ve included links to each tool I mention and if you want to skip ahead to a specific segment in the video, I’ve included timestamps for each section below.

I’ve also shared some of my top tips for a productive at-home work schedule.

Disclaimer: I am *not* an affiliate for any of these companies or tools. I do *not* receive any commissions for promoting them. I have chosen the tools I’ve found most useful as an online teacher to help you as you transition — temporarily or permanently — to the online classroom.

How to Teach and Work Online — 5 Effective Tools to Get Started

Please leave comments with questions or requests for more information. I’m happy to help.


  • 1:45 — Overview of what tools I share in this video
  • 3:40 — Loom — Record videos for training purposes
  • 5:03 — How to use Loom
  • 8:30 — Zoom for live online classrooms (and why I prefer it)
  • 10:29 — Getting set up with Zoom
  • 12:38 — Setting up multiple classrooms in your Zoom account
  • 17:26 — Inside the Zoom classroom
  • 19:34 — Using Google Drive (professionally) for file sharing
  • 20:48 — Sharing files with students 23:34 — Kami for annotating files
  • 26:36 — Canva for worksheet templates and more
  • 28:48 — Final thoughts and your questions



UPDATE: Using Breakout Rooms on Zoom

If you want to use the breakout rooms feature on Zoom, you may need to enable it on your account. Review this article to learn how.



Use this link to set up a Zoom account using your school email address. This will give you access to additional features during the Covid-19 Crisis.


A fellow teacher has a great podcast and helpful resources. Visit My Adventures in ESL for a podcast on adjusting to distance learning and a variety of resources for a K-12 classroom, particularly selecting engaging topics for a virtual classroom.

My Top Tips to Be Productive Working from Home


Tip 1: Schedule Everything

You may be at home, but it’s important to schedule your goals, priorities and break times. 

Put your tasks, work time, break time, meetings, and more on your calendar. I even put the time I want to paint and workout on my calendar.

Once you’ve put something on your calendar, stick with it.


Tip 2: Get Dressed in the Morning

You don’t go to work in your pajamas, do you?

Because you’re at home, it’s tempting to stay in your pajamas or comfy clothes, but don’t. This will help you feel like you’re going to work and put you in a more productive mindset.

If you normally wake up at 5:30 a.m. to get around and go to work, stick with that schedule.


Tip 3: Plan Breaks During Your Day

Stay creative and focused by giving yourself time to relax. 

Especially right now when we’re isolated at home, it’s essential to pause and use your break to stay emotionally, mentally, physically, and socially healthy.

Use your breaks to:

  • Take a walk (if you can)
  • Call or text a friend
  • Do a Facebook live or Google hangout with a friend or colleague
  • Be creative and enjoy a hobby*
  • Meditate*
  • Enjoy an online museum tour or live music online*

I recently created a Coronavirus Support Guide with links to many online activities and opportunities. 


Tip 4: Stay Healthy

This absolutely means to stay inside right now and do what you can to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

It also means staying hydrated and eat food that will nourish you.

Avoid loneliness by checking in with friends, family, coworkers or communicating with others online. It’s essential to stay socially connected right now and continue meaningful interactions with people you love. 


If you’re teaching or working online for the first time, I’d love to hear:

1. What tool is most useful to you from this list?

2. What challenges are you facing? I’d love to help in any way I can.

And, as you develop positive, productive habits for working from home, share them with me. You can share in the comments section below. It’s a great way to share YOUR expertise and know-how with others in the Confident English Community and connect with others.

All my best, 

– Annemarie

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