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Today we’re going back to basics — how to be a good teacher.

Being an effective online teacher, whether that’s in language teaching, entrepreneurial training, or anything else you might be teaching — is all about connecting with your student, respecting their time and effort, and doing the things you say you are going to do.

Many people think being an online teacher is easier than teaching in a traditional classroom. The thing is, you’re not reporting for duty to a physical location every day. It’s up to you to motivate yourself, and to grow your business/body of students/curriculum as you see fit.

Yeah, we’re location independent and can enjoy all of the perks that go along with that lifestyle. But it’s hard work, and hard to do right.

Here are seven tips to helo you be a good teacher.

Be on time

When you arrange a class you have to commit to it, we do not know if the student cares if you arrive a bit late and then you leave a bit late. Punctuality means “Professional teacher”.

Online education is the opposite of being a kid in school in that your students are paying your salary directly. Rescheduling classes regularly, showing up late, and not being prepared are the biggest mistakes you can make, and the fastest way to drive students away.

Know your students and materials in advance

On a similar note, there are so many different books, materials, and other teaching supplies that you need to know front and back before you ever teach your first class.

And, the material you bring to a class needs to be tied in with that direct student’s learning style and ability. One common mistake I see online teachers make all the time is assuming that the method that best worked for them to learn a piece of material is going to work across the board.

Some students are visual learners. Others are rapid note-takers. Some are lethargic, even though they’re paying to be there. You need to know your students, and the material that will best help them learn what you are teaching.

I find it helpful to send new students a short survey when they sign up. Alternatively, you might try having a conversation with them about their learning style during the first lesson.

Once you decide which books or materials are perfect for your student, you have to know everything about it.

Why?

A) The student does not like having a feeling that you, his/her professor, does not know how to do some activities and exercises.

This does not look good at all. Poor student.

B) Because when you have often been working with the same books for many years, you can master it very well and each class preparation will be easy and easy.

Nonetheless, learning about new materials and methods is vital for our profession. Please, avoid being a “black and white” educator.

Do not leave your paper/digital dictionary at home.

Although you know, or believe that you know, the meaning of every single world and idioms, because you are the coolest professor in the planet Earth, soon or later, your student will ask you the only question you are not ready to answer in that moment. No shame in being modest…sometimes.

Rely on your best devices.

I usually have two devices switched on during my class. I talk to my student via a tablet and type via a computer to them, in order to not send that horrible typing noise to their ear.  

Also, ensure that your student is relying on their best devices as well. If they aren’t sure what to use, here are recommendations.

Furthermore, I can make notes about their progress, using my computer and send some extra materials to them in that moment.  If you have a busy day,  a tablet can also be handy in case you need to stretch your legs without stopping the class.

Remember: even if you have your style, the priority is your student needs. Some teachers like teaching in a certain way, using the same methodology, but each student is different. Some of them need to practice more speaking, while others need to master grammar and writing.

A good teacher is also a good student

Here’s your chance to get a bit introspective. Think back to when you were a student in school or the last time you signed up for a lesson of some kind.

What was it that helped you grasp the material in the most efficient manner?

What didn’t you like?

With experience, you’ll learn how to avoid mistakes you noticed teachers making while grasping onto ideas and practices that you found worked really well.

One thing I love doing is taking notes in a journal at the end of each course, or at the end of working with a particular student. I jot down what worked and what didn’t on this particular go around, and try to draw similarities between other students/courses, while also drawing conclusions about things I want to change.

This doesn’t need to be something you are constantly doing, as constant reflection and criticism make it hard to get into a routine. Just periodically when something ends, so that your ducks in a row and have a bit of closure with the person or topic.

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