Online Teacher Tips: How To Engage Your Learners
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Caring About Students Leads To Successful Teaching

Whether you are teaching online or teaching face-to-face, the secret to being a great teacher is simply caring about your students. One of the main mistakes new teachers make is that they pay too much attention to the lesson they are teaching. They have their backs turned to the class and spend the entire class period writing on the board trying to perfect their lesson. New teachers want to give the perfect lesson, and as a result, pay very little attention to the student. Nothing is less interesting for the student than sitting for 45 minutes while the teacher is turning their back to the student. When a new teacher focuses so much on their lesson and forgets about the students, the students become bored and then they have classroom discipline problems.

One of the hardest lessons for new teachers to learn is to let go of their lesson and care about the students. If you care about the students and get to know your students, the students will learn to care about you and your lesson. It is important for the teacher to develop a relationship with their class. Having a good relationship with the students enriches the teaching and learning experience for the teacher and for the students. How many boring teachers do you remember from high school? College? On the other hand, how many inspiring, caring teachers do you remember? I bet you remember only the caring teachers, right?

In an online environment, a good online teacher is a teacher who cares about her online students. A good online teacher must maintain a constant teacher presence in the online classroom. Once the students realize that their online teacher cares about them, then teaching that online class is a breeze.

How Does An Online Teacher Show That They Care About Their Online Students?

1. Give A Warm Welcome

Give each and every student a warm and personal welcome during the first week of class. Use funny conversation-breaker questions to get the conversation going. Example: If you were on a deserted island, what one object would you bring? Or describe what is outside your window. Or if you were president for 100 days, what would you do?

2. Respond Immediately

Respond to student emails immediately. Use a professional tone when answering a student email and never talk down to the student. Send "How are you doing?" emails to students every couple of weeks so that the students know that you care about their progress in class.

3. Learn Their Interests

Take notes about what each student is interested in and relate your lesson and forum posts to the student interests. Learn the students' names and interests to show you care about these students. "Susan, as an administrative assistant, what grammar mistakes do you see in the business correspondence?"

4. Use Multimedia

Create multimedia for a student if that student is having a hard time with a difficult topic in class. I once had a student who could not understand "parallel structure," so I created a parallel structure video just for her. She was thrilled!

5. Grade On Time And Give Feedback

Grade online assignments on time. Give thorough feedback using track changes or GradeMark. Do not simply say, "Bad paper!" instead, tell the students why they made the mistake and how they can make improvements to their paper. Tell students when you will have their papers done. For instance, I used to post a grading schedule (Monday—ENGL 102, Tuesday—ENGL 101, etc.). In that way, each class knows when to expect their grade.

6. Create Forum Discussions

Create stimulating forum discussions that make each student feel special. Respond to student posts with a caring tone. Make the forum posts interesting by using role-play, online games, fun quizzes, case studies, and challenging questions. Have students write a round-robin story where one student starts a story, and then the next student continues the story.

7. Offer Adaptive Learning Solutions

Create assignments, lessons, and forum posts that adapt to different learning styles. I would provide class lessons using video (for visual students), audio (for audio learners), and I would have multimedia assignments for kinesthetic learners. I would adapt my lessons, forums, and assignments to my students and change them up based on each class of students. If I have a lot of visual students, I will use more visual assignments, if I have a lot of audio learners, I will use more audio.

So, the secret to being a great online teacher is to show the students that the teacher cares about them. When I asked the students what makes a great online teacher, the students responded, "We all want a teacher who cares about us" as the number one answer. So, to be a good teacher, simply show the students you care about them!

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