Convert a traditional face to face school to an online school (in 12 hours)

Peter David Smith
Mar 13 · 3 min read

This week, the Spanish government shut down schools across the country due to the cases of coronavirus doubling overnight.

Today, Friday the 13th (had to be, didn’t it) 2020, is the first day of our shutdown. Yesterday, I was told we needed to convert our traditional language school into an online school.

This is what we did/are doing/will do. We are only four hours in as I type. Exciting! This post will be updated as our strategy emerges. This strategy is for adults and teenagers who can self-study.

I’ll post a version for younger learners when I can.

The First 4 Hours

Choose an Online Platform

We didn’t have much option here as we were already using Microsoft Teams.

If you don’t have Teams use Zoom.

However, we were told that our servers would probably collapse with simultaneous classes with all students present. This is when we came up with the idea of splitting a 90 minute class into three 25 minute slots with fewer students, depending on the number of students. For example:

15 students in a class: three, 25-minute slots of 5 students.

From here we decided that the best methodological approach would be to ‘Flip the Classroom’.

The Flipped Classroom Methodology

A Flipped Classroom is one where the students look at material BEFORE the class and come to the (soon to be virtual) class with questions. Class time (now 25 minutes, not 90) is spent on using language and resolving doubts.

This would buy us time to train and inform teachers, 90% of whom had never taught an online class.

Today, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday there will be no classes but all teachers will be required to select material for students to self study for the students first online class, starting on Wednesday.

If your students have a physical or digital coursebook (our case), direct students to the material that needs to be covered.

If your are not using a coursebook, direct students to content online with a clear learning objective e.g. Watch video and write 5 questions to ask a partner.


We soon realised that without clear and effective communication channels, we wouldn’t get anywhere.

Academic Coordination / Teachers

Teachers were informed of the general plan by email and invited to training sessions on Monday.

Teachers / Students

Teachers informed students of the changes, pre-class activities and ways they can keep in contact (email, text, platform)

Technical Staff / everyone!

Via the platform, email and phone.

Administration / Students

The school informed students and teachers of the changes.

Reception staff were trained to respond to student enquiries directing them to a catch all webpage with links on

  • platform use
  • online etiquette
  • resources

The Next 4 Hours

Teacher Training

We organised six online training sessions for Monday. Four for teachers of adults and two for teachers of younger learners.

We also organised a F2F session for those who didn’t have computers/cameras/wifi at home. *Goverment have just announced that all ‘non-essential staff’ should be at home* so bang goes our F2F session!

We scheduled each session for 25 minutes to replicate the length of class that teachers would be giving.

We invited teachers via a Doodle poll to choose a time slot that best suited them.

Code of Conduct

We created a Code of Conduct for students.

The Training Sessions

Each session covered the following:

  • How to log onto the platform (Microsoft Teams in our case)
  • How to set up a class.
  • What the content of the pre class message should be
  • How to use the chat function
  • How to use the One Note function
  • Code of Conduct
  • Basic online teaching skills

Please post your questions and suggestions in the comments.

We can do this!

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade