Teaching online is hard. There is no doubt about that. For those just starting out, the task of building an online business from nothing or translating your classroom experiences to the digital realm translating your classroom experiences to the digital realm can seem daunting. Let’s take a look at confidence building techniques for online teachers. By using your experience and personality to set achievable goals and build better relationships with students.
Be personable and relatable
While this sounds more like a tactic for building a student’s confidence, the effect is equally as potent on a teacher. You will be much more confident in what you’re presenting to students if it reflects a part of yourself. Think about what you can do to personally connect with a student. What similarities do you have? What learning techniques seem to work for both of you? The more you get to know the student, the more personable you can be.
A confident student is the result of a confident teacher is the result of a confident student. Run on? Definitely not. By keeping lessons full of personality and soul, your students will be able to relate more and in the end, will get more out of them. Your confidence will rise as your lessons work wonders.
I’ll add a bit of personal testament here. In my career, I’ve noticed time and time again that I find more success when I let my personal flag fly than when I try to box myself into what I think others want to see in a situation. Admiration happens by true personality, not by imitation or sterilization. Students are impressionable. You’ll never have more success getting a point across or sharing knowledge than by doing so in your own words, telling your own story. It also doesn’t hurt to listen now and then.
Craft your learning environment to reflect your teaching style
Think back to when you were first learning the material you’re now teaching. What stood out to you the most? Odds are, your students will be able to relate to that, at least a little bit. Try to reflect that in your presentation and teaching setting to help you approach the course or lesson plan with as much confidence as possible.
Consider what is going to be on-camera in your lesson. Does it reflect who you are? The decorations on your walls, the letterhead or imagery on your documents, all of this will help you to feel more comfortable in your teaching environment. This, in turn, translates to the student’s learning experience. They chose you out of all the online teachers available for a reason – even if you aren’t sure what that reason is just yet.
Set difficult but attainable goals
This is true both in teaching and life. It’s important to push yourself. Take your teaching to the next level by identifying what you can do in this course, semester, or lesson to better your teaching game. If there is anything you’ve been wanting to try, make a note of it and determine how to fit it in.
Remember that while the goals should take both effort and time, they also must be attainable. Part of building confidence is having marked moments of success. In your goal planning, have short and long term goals that are built upon ideas or steps that will have a direct impact on your teaching and personal life. Take the time to congratulate yourself when a goal is met!
Be prepared, and stay prepared
You expect your students to show up prepared – assignments completed, reading finished, ready to go. They expect the same from you as their teacher. This fact also goes unnoticed, because many take it for granted that their teachers have mastered the material and know exactly what they are doing. We all know this isn’t always the case. But it should be.
I suggest a re-read of the material you’ll be teaching in an upcoming course or session. You may pick up on something that went overlooked before. At the very least, you’ll be fresh and reminded of what you’ve taken from the material in the past.
Do you have a content calendar built out for your lessons? The further ahead you can plan the better. Note days of lessons and have a checklist to ensure the student(s) have all materials needed in advance, and that you have everything listed and prepared for that day. We use Asana, but there are others as well. Notes are always a plus. They’ll help you present the material to students effectively, and ensure you’re covering everything that needs to be covered. This does wonders for confidence building.
Rehearse and Revise
Feeling nervous about a certain lesson? Recite it. Whether to yourself in a mirror, to a spouse or significant other, or a friend. Just going through the material gives you the opportunity to make revisions and tighten up loose spots.
Rehearsals also give you the chance to hone in your speaking skills. Are you talking to fast? Too slow? Carrying on too long in a certain section or not explaining well enough? All of these are common issues in the online teaching world.
It’s kind of like driving a new route to get somewhere. The first time, you’re just feeling it out, identifying the fastest way and which intersections to avoid. After a few runs, you’ve got it down. Practice makes perfect, and in the case of language teachers, practice makes fluent. Being comfortable and well-rehearsed will keep you relaxed when working with students.