One of the most important parts of K-12 online learning involves student/teacher connections. When these connections occur, students are engaged and teachers can more easily identify when and how to support learners.
We've compiled a few student behaviors that are important when it comes to online learning. If you, the parent, guardian, or student coach, can guide your online student toward making these behaviors routine, you will be setting them up for success for years to come.
A short, simple introduction is a great way for a student to open the lines of communication with their instructor. It helps the teacher learn a little bit about the student and allows the teacher make a personal connection. Online educators are always checking their email, so it is the perfect forum for a quick introduction.
Respond to Teacher Emails
Online teachers live and breathe emails and part of that activity includes checking for student responses. Online teachers spend a significant amount of time sending emails to students, asking if they need help or suggesting a particular learning approach. When students respond to those messages, it shows the teacher that they are actively participating and paying attention to questions.
Submit Original Work
Submitting original work is just as important in an online class as it is in a brick-and-mortar setting. All students are asked to complete the same assignments, and teachers genuinely enjoy reading unique, individual responses to those assignments.
Remind your student that copying and pasting from Wikipedia or any other external site is plagiarism. When teachers stumble upon online ads in the middle of a student document or they need to consult the dictionary to read student work, it’s a dead giveaway that the work is not original.
Reading is an enormous part of online education. Sometimes, the words on the page are the only means of communication teachers have when giving assignments. It is extremely important that students read the assignment directions carefully and follow them.
Online students have the flexibility to read the directions multiple times, if necessary. Encourage your student to take advantage of that opportunity. Teachers can evaluate assignments much more efficiently when students follow directions, which allows them to provide detailed feedback faster.
Advocate for Yourself
Encourage your student to speak up when they have a question, concern, or problem that they need help addressing. Online teachers are there to support students, just the same as classroom teachers. However, online teachers can't see the confusion on a student’s face in order to initiate the conversation.
If your student needs support, prompt them to ask a question, send an email, or attend office hours if your program offers them. School is the perfect opportunity for students to become independent and self-sufficient, so try and resist the urge to advocate on behalf of your children (if they are old enough to advocate for themselves.) Developing this skill early on will benefit students for a lifetime.
Use Standard English
Assignments and emails should always be written in standard English. Thoughts and ideas are conveyed much more clearly this way.
The translation of texting language takes time and can slow down the grading process. Additionally, standard English is expected in a professional environment, so it’s best to start the habit of using proper grammar and punctuation now.
If your student's program includes office hours for online teachers, encourage your child to attend when they need extra support. Office hours often provide students with an opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with their teacher. It’s a great option for students who may not feel as comfortable speaking up in an online classroom environment.
Conversations or chats during office hours are generally more productive when a student is prepared with detailed, specific questions.
For example, “I don’t understand,” is challenging to address. On the other hand, a prepared question, such as the next example, provides detail and allows the teacher to use their time with the student more efficiently by immediately working to clarify the concept.
“The distribution property is confusing to me. I’ve read through the lesson and attempted problems 1-10 on page 224. On problem #5, this <student shows details> is what I did, and this is where I am stuck <student shows additional details>."
With so many traditional teachers moving to distance learning this year, we'd love to hear your recommendations. What behaviors do you like to see from your online students? Please share your suggestions in the comments below.