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Employee Spotlight: An Inside Look at Online Teaching

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Meet Joe DiCicco, a veteran social studies teacher at Lincoln Learning Solutions. We interviewed Joe in order to give you an inside look at the role of online teacher at our organization. 

What do you enjoy most about working at Lincoln Learning Solutions?

Throughout my career at Lincoln Learning Solutions, I’ve had the honor of mentoring and positively affecting an enormous number of students. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity Lincoln Learning has given me to help these students achieve their goals and exceed their potential. 

Lincoln Learning Solutions is about constructing positive and mutually beneficial relationships on many different levels within and outside our organization. I’ve met so many people and made so many friends while working here. 

In your opinion, what is the best part about being an online teacher?

The best part about being an online educator is providing students with access to quality information presented logically and effectively. I also get to be part of the growing educational trend that is online education.

I’m also able to provide educational choice to parents and students in addition to individualized education opportunities within my courses. I love helping to infuse as much technology and information as possible into this industry. 

Can you describe your typical day?

In a typical day, I communicate with students through various online tools, most commonly email, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and by providing detailed assessment feedback. While my students' needs are my primary concern, I also communicate with client representatives to ensure all students are receiving top-notch care and quality instructional services.

Other daily tasks include course refinement and maintenance in addition to creating and reviewing new Lincoln Empowered curriculum content. 

How do you make personal connections with your students since they can’t physically see you each day?

Ultimately, students must know you care about them, along with their thoughts, feelings, triumphs, and especially failures. These concepts are the basis for successful personal connections in both traditional and online classrooms. I’m not one who believes learning is only developed from failure, but there can be value in it for some students. 

I believe there is significantly more value in setting reasonable challenges and goals tailored for each individual learning style. I establish personal connections through assessment feedback, where I specifically guide my students toward achieving and exceeding their potential.

How do you keep your online students engaged in the content?

Effective communication is key in an online setting, and students do not always come prepared with the proper communication skills or the desire to use them. I am in regular contact with my students multiple times per week, and I give special attention to underperforming students. I refer to courses as “our,” rather than “your” or “my,” providing them ownership over the course and pushing them toward a stakeholder mentality. 

I have also found it quite effective to simply tell students I know they can do better, or I expect more from them than their current efforts. It is truly amazing to see the difference in student effort when there are open lines of communication and when students begin to see you as a caring and supporting mentor.

What advice do you have for new online teachers?

My advice is to always remember the importance of connecting with your students on a personal level. Focus on helping your students truly realize (through your actions, not words) that you care about them as a person and a student. Understand from the start that online teachers must invest more time in outreach and developing effective lines of communication with their students.   

At Lincoln Learning Solutions, we want to help you #DesignHowYouEducate, meaning that we help educators realize their vision of the ideal education program for their students. We asked Joe's supervisor, Rodney Slappy, Manager of Instructional Services - Social Studies, this question:

How does Joe embody #DesignHowYouEducate?

Joe is an excellent example of #DesignHowYouEducate in action. He has an exceptional ability to use our Lincoln Empowered curriculum to effectively engage students within an online environment. He contributes to and enhances the Empowered curriculum by designing supplemental materials that enhance student learning.

Joe also does an outstanding job of maintaining open lines of communication with students, helping to ease the difficulty that online learners sometimes face when adjusting to a virtual learning environment.

It’s very evident that Joe devotes a great amount of his time to grading student work, monitoring student progress, responding to emails, providing office hours (tutoring), and assisting and motivating any student who reaches out to him. These are just a few examples of why Joe exemplifies a great online teacher who is caring, responsible, and dependable.

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