Livestream Lesson Learned

Written by:
Randy Helfman, Esq.


Change is always difficult, but if you embrace it, you might discover the hidden benefits. When the unfortunate and horrific realization of COVID-19 affected ASREB over a year ago, I was one of the last instructors to stop teaching live classes. I vividly recall teaching a basic licensing class to a camera in an empty room that once held over 150 students. I am certain that room will soon hold that many again. It was an eerie feeling. Very little, if any student interaction occurred and I left school that day questioning the effectiveness of my teaching. That last class did not feel the same. There was no laughter and no real connection with the students. Then we started teaching from home. Loneliness started to set in even though I was with my family who I love the most. I have not seen some of my colleagues and staff in person for over 13 months now. My second family vanished in an instant and I have worked with some of the most fantastic staff and instructors for over 20 years. There was no one to say hello to at the breaks or to joke around with before and after class. At home, using a tiny laptop made it hard to see expressions on students faces. I was static sitting in a chair teaching. No walking around in class and no real eye contact. I used a white board on an easel behind me and it kept falling on my head and students could not see it clearly. Not loving Livestream.

Time to fix the situation. Upgrade the computer and use a built-in on-screen white board and write with my finger. This will put an end to that dangerous white board. Utilize a larger monitor to see the students better. Now that I can see all their faces, I can connect by calling them each by name, which is next to impossible in a live class. I also can see their backgrounds and now I can relate to students in way I never could before. I now have new opportunities to connect and so many talking points. This may work out after all! I can now do math and, in the chat, observe that everyone is solving for the correct answer. The students can have homemade snacks and get comfortable. I see parents kissing their children hello and goodbye. Students who are less shy in Livestream than in person can eagerly discuss their pets, hobbies, and homes, as well as ask questions without being self-conscious. Once, a pet bird landed on a student’s camera and stared me down for close to five minutes. I can use our PowerPoint to aid in visual memory tools. With Livestream we can still joke as I can observe 25 or 50 students at a time and watch their laughter. I can scan their faces on one screen and determine quickly if everyone understood the concept. Hold on, I am liking this! I am teaching effectively as I am working almost one on one, and it does not matter how many students I have. This platform works… One moment, I must read a school update… We are talking now about transitioning back… Could be end of summer or later.

Transitioning back? No, not change again! I will gladly accept change this time as it serves as a precursor to the curbing of this dastardly virus, and I will reunite with my friends, students, and colleagues. Nothing will replace in person instruction, but ASREB instructors, innovative staff, management, and ADRE approval created an alternative which accomplished, and in some ways bested in person teaching. Livestream has many benefits and should always remain an option. I might not have said that over a year ago. An interesting benefit is that my family also has learned the entire basic licensing curriculum and I often hear my children reciting answers along with the class. Soon enough we will return to vending machines and pants. Thank you Livestream; I learned my lesson and taught a few.