Last year about this time, I joined an online fitness program called The Unbreakable Body. While it’s been helpful for my fitness (that’s a different story), I have found myself constantly reflecting on what it has felt like to be out of my element in something new.
Feeling New and Uncertain Online
I think that’s how our online students feel sometimes, particularly their first time.
Unsure. Second guessing myself. Wondering if I’m on the right track. Needing reassurance.
Every time I tried something in the site, I was online asking questions. I felt so much like I was asking stupid questions. Being a pain. Taking up too much time.
Let’s face it, freaked out! Trying to have the courage to face the big unknown. Dipping my toe in the water.
The Power of Encouragement
The thing that kept me going was amazing answers to emails! Answers came so quickly! Yes, of course, during business hours. I expect people to sleep. 🙂
The emails always made me smile!
- They always started with gladness and joy that I was doing the program
- Sandwiched in the middle was the answer to my question
- Often the emails ended with something funny; always with an invitation to ask any other questions
How essential was that communication to keep me going!
Translating to Online Teaching
So how does that translate to our online teaching?
I’ve always felt that the first couple weeks in an online course are CRITICAL, and that one cannot OVER COMMUNICATE in the first weeks. Huge encouragement, calling, reminding, making sure everyone knows what to do. It pays off in a significant reduction in questions, confusion, and procrastination towards the end of class. For example:
- I’m so glad you’ve joined this class.
- Thank you for writing in with your question.
- Let’s schedule a phone call and talk this over!
- Awesome that you’ve gotten started with your studies! Congratulations on the first steps!
- The sun is shining in my window as I write to you; I pray it’s shining on your studies too.
Be cheery. Be personal. Be you. Encourage.
Fast Response Time
A fast response time means so much. A face to face student can come stand in your office door. An online student only has your phone or email. Get back to them soon. Even if it’s just to say that you’re working on the situation and will get back soon.
As the nervous new online fitness student, I kept thinking and wondering about my question while I was waiting for an answer. A quick response set my mind at ease and sent me continuing down my learning path.
Experience Newness Yourself
If you haven’t experienced learning something new lately, find something new to learn. Doesn’t even have to be online. But feel that new-to-you feeling.
Then keep that in mind as you interact with your online students. Be encouraging!