The feedback from our teachers regarding our online English classes is very interesting. While our teachers have adapted very well to the classes, almost all reported something unexpected : feeling very mentally tired after classes. There’s even a name for this : zoom fatigue.
I did a quick google on it : here’s a link to searches for zoom fatigue and I also found quite a few articles on the subject — seems it’s a common experience for those who use video conferencing for meetings. And what causes it is worth looking at, particularly on the context of EFL teaching.
Firstly, you have to concentrate more when you’re teaching online. In normal classes, there are natural breaks and pauses in teaching. These don”t really happen online as the learners’ attention is very much focused on the teacher. But, in the real world, how often do you stand within three feet of someone and stare at their face? Hardly ever. This is because having to engage in a “constant gaze” is uncomfortable for people. In some cultures, it’s even considered to be very aggressive.
Online, the only way to show you’re paying attention is to look at the camera and stare at the teacher. And so the teacher feels under more pressure.
So in our classes we try to build in mini-breaks so that both students and teachers can relieve some of the non-verbal pressure they feel. These mini-breaks are scheduled, and can involve pair-work, surveys and group projects. So far, the feedback is very positive.