How Can I Be a Good Virtual Teacher?

Over the shoulder view of a teacher seated at desk in classroom, chatting with young student on a laptop computer via video conferencingAs we continue to gain traction in an online world, teaching, coaching and other forms of knowledge transmission are gaining in popularity. Pretty much anything you want to learn is available at your fingertips – virtually!

But for teachers, and educators who want to know what it takes to really shine while teaching with video conferencing technology in an online space, there are a few things to know. To be a fantastic virtual teacher, you need to have presence. That’s it, really! Let’s break it down a little further and explore what it means to have presence in a virtual setting.

Close up view of desktop monitor displaying teacher lecturing in front of blackboard via video chatYour Skills

As an educator, you already know what you’re doing! With just a few simple tweaks, you can sharpen what you already know to really “bring it” in an online setting and present yourself fully. Here’s how to work with what you already have:

  1. You Are Adaptable
    Snafus happen. Hard questions come up, and technology fails now and again. Being able to remain calm, cool and collected keeps everyone focused and continues to position you as the leader.
  2. You Have The Ability To Teach Creatively
    Thinking outside the box, especially in a digital environment, keeps learning fresh and fun! Help students retain more information by relying on digital tools that support your teaching ideas. You don’t have to do all the heavy lifting. Try live virtual instruction, recorded sessions, live presentations, video streaming and more!
  3. You Have Strong Communication Skills
    Your warmth and kindness comes out with how you speak and hold yourself online. Using nonviolent or invitational communication works to make students feel safe and willing to open up and learn. Be clear and concise, and build trust with effective communication that is frequent, and succinct.
  4. You Make Yourself Available
    Some students will require more support than others. A big part of the student teacher relationship is answering questions and offering support when needed. Providing assistance during office hours or via email goes a long way for students eager to learn and for teachers to remain present and accessible within reason.
  5. You Provide Good Feedback
    Feedback that is constructive, appreciative and offers an opportunity to learn is priceless. Being on top of regular and consistent feedback promotes engagement and problem solving.
  6. You Are Supportive
    To the best of your ability, work to make every interaction a pleasant and positive one. Even from a distance, you can touch hearts and be supportive. Offer comfort, try new things and be encouraging whether students are struggling or succeeding! (alt-tag: Close up view of desktop monitor displaying teacher lecturing in front of blackboard via video chat.)
  7. You Are Passionate
    When you’re passionate about something, it comes through in your words, body language, tone and demeanor. Teaching in an online setting still gives you the container to do that. The way you express and move will greatly affect how you transmit your knowledge!
  8. You Have The Tech Skills
    To some degree, you know how to move around educational technology. And if you don’t, there’s a free video conferencing solution out there for you that is intuitive and easy to navigate, and doesn’t require equipment, complicated set up or downloads!

Your Skills In Practice

Here are a few ways to put these skills into practice to form a more dynamic and emotional relationship with your online class:

  1. Go Beyond Speaking Presence
    The way you present yourself online in front of your class, small group or one on one session is important for establishing your presence. The way you speak, and use your body, the way you compose yourself and bring yourself to the virtual classroom is how your students perceive you. That being said, the digital tools you use to stay connected are critical. While video conferencing offers face-to-face communication, it’s also important to remember the other channels of communication. A focus on asynchronous lessons, text chat, emails and other ways to stay connected weigh heavily on how learners learn and how they perceive the quality of education they are receiving. Try setting up a hotline, or a group chat or Facebook group. Encourage learners to ask questions during lessons, and engage in the text chat box. Create office hours for smaller groups that offer support too!
  2. Put The Time In Beyond Just Facetime
    A teacher’s presence is most felt during an online lecture or seminar, however, it’s what happens before and after that really cements the success of a class. Teachers are always planning and researching for a lesson after hours. Effective online learning can only happen when an educator appears relaxed and in control. Leadership qualities are very helpful when leading a virtual class, therefore practicing a lesson, learning the logistics and knowing how to improvise will stand you in good stead!
  3. Presence = Clarity And Organization
    For any transmission of knowledge, it pays off to have everything organized and ready to go. Your presence and how you hold space for learning greatly affects your flow and how students are able to follow along in a virtual environment. Ensure your desktop is neat, and your files and documents are nearby. Know where your resources are kept so you can access them and so can your students! When you feel confident navigating through your video conferencing technology, it comes through in your teaching style which establishes your presence and creates a harmonious set up for everyone.
  4. Receive Student Feedback
    A teacher’s presence is always a work in progress and might ebb and flow according to the students and content material. Stay up to date with what works for students by asking questions and being able to adapt to their needs. Their feedback will help you adjust how you’re able to show up and give them what they’re asking for. Try including polls, surveys, or an online suggestion box. (alt tag: Young woman working diligently at home from desk, writing and taking notes and working from an opened laptop.)
  5. Focus On Building Relationships
    Presence, even virtually, reinforces a human connection in an online setting. These connections help students to feel a deeper bond and integrate their learnings with their peers and teachers. Connections with each other and connections to you establish trust and lay the foundation for learning. Camaraderie and morale affect the absorption of learning. Strategies include icebreakers at the beginning of the class, or sharing a personal story. You can do a group check-in or an “appreciation, apology or aha!”

Young woman working diligently at home from desk, writing and taking notes and working from an opened laptopYour presence is felt by every student you reach and teach. Let facilitate the connection between how you show up and how your students receive you in an online environment. With free video conferencing software you can rely on, you can make an impact using features that empower your teaching. Use Free Screen Sharing, Free Video Conferencing and Free Conference Calling to shape your style of teaching online and change lives.

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