Updated: January 4th, 2024
Regardless of what types of classes you teach, academic or extracurricular, there comes a time when you may want or need to take a break from teaching.
Other times, learners might pause or stop a subscription for various reasons. Whether it is because they are traveling for the holidays, spending time at a sleepaway camp during the summer, moving to a new home, or any other reason to keep your online business thriving, it’s important to keep your learners actively participating even when not in class. Even though the learners no longer have access to the classroom, you can still keep them engaged by sharing some of these tips as a learner message.
But how do you interact with learners when they’re not in the classroom?
In this article, we’ve come up with 10 tips for you to use to keep your learners engaged when you’re taking a break or when they’ve hit the “pause” button that will keep them coming back for more.
Tip #1: Supplemental learning
If you are taking time off or taking a break between class times, one of the easiest things you can do is create supplemental learning tools to share with them. Create supplemental worksheets, activities, etc. to share on the classroom page with your currently enrolled learners.
If you have learners taking a break or pausing their enrollment, they will not have access to the classroom page. However, you may want to continue engaging with those learners to encourage them to return sooner rather than later. To do this, you can utilize the messaging system to message learners and parents.
Bonus tip: As long as you create the materials yourself and not using copyrighted materials, you can always sell them for other educators to use on your social media pages or a platform like Teachers Pay Teachers.
Tip #2: Take advantage of the season
Regardless if you’re taking a break during the winter holidays or summer months, embrace the season by creating engaging, sharable materials that align with what you’re currently teaching. Let’s say you normally teach a weekly cooking class but are not teaching for a couple of weeks during the holidays. If that is the case, you can share a recipe with learners and have them post pictures of the final product on the classroom page in between live class meetings.
But this suggestion isn’t just for educators in the kitchen! History, geography, and English teachers can share historical stories from around the world. Don’t forget that even counting candy canes or candles throughout a learner’s house can be a fun math game and a great way for learners to stay connected when you’re taking a break.
Tip #3: Book suggestions
You don’t have to teach ELA (English Language Arts) to include reading as an offline supplement. Using a book that correlates to your class topics helps learners expand their understanding, sometimes in a completely different way than how you teach in the classroom.
Use your lesson plan, if you have one, to hone in on the main topics of your class and then see if there are books you can share to keep learners interested outside the classroom. You can even have the whole family participate in the learning journey by sharing read-aloud book suggestions they could enjoy during their break.
Remember, book suggestions should be secular, inclusive, and meet Outschool’s class content policy.
Tip #4: Offer trivia-style games
Just because you’re not meeting live doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! If you are taking a break from a subscription class or even a multi-day class that is taking a break, but you have enrolled learners, create a game for learners to play outside class using online tools such as Kahoot, Gimkit, or Blooket. With these games, you can create review games and subject-matter trivia or let learners create their own games to share on the classroom page.
Be sure to check out these articles for even more ideas on gamification:
- 10 Effective ways to use gamification in your online classroom
- Get in the game! Three online teaching trends
Those aren’t all the tools! There are many more options available, just check to see that the tool you’re using is approved.
Tip #5: Keep teaching
Just because you’re not meeting live doesn’t mean you have to stop teaching. Offer enrichment learning opportunities for enrolled learners during breaks. Consider including video lessons or slides teaching a new topic or skill related to your class. It doesn’t have to be incredibly in-depth. Instead, it could be an overview of what the learner may have missed during their break. Doing this minimizes the learner’s concern that they’re falling behind or have missed too much and encourages them to continue learning independently.
Don’t forget about the learners who’ve paused or stopped their subscriptions. Offering learning opportunities to these families through the messaging system is a great way to add value to your online teaching business. Share a simple worksheet or skill review to let families see what they’re missing and encourage them to rejoin class soon.
Tip #6: Classroom page communication
If your learners have become friends with one another and you want to encourage that kind of environment, you might want to post daily or weekly questions on the classroom page. These could be icebreaker questions or related to the content of your course. Either way, the goal is to get learners talking and interacting with each other even outside of the classroom. Just keep in mind that only currently enrolled learners have access to the classroom page, so those who’ve paused or stop their subscriptions will not be able to participate.
Tip #7: Make it a family event
Although the goal is to keep learners engaged during a break, don’t forget that the adults in their lives are paying for the classes. With this in mind, you can create a scavenger hunt, compile questions for a movie night, or recommend board games with the families. Let them know you’re thinking of them and show the effort that you’re willing to put into continuing their learning at home. Remember, keeping an open dialogue with families goes a long way.
Tip #8: Create a challenge
Who doesn’t love a little friendly competition between classmates? What about a challenge between you and your learners? When a large group of learners is taking a break or you’re looking for something new to do, it’s time to think outside the box. Take a moment to think about challenges that relate to your course. For example, if you’re teaching about solar power in your science class, encourage learners to research and put together their own energy projects, like this solar-powered pizza box, and see who rises to the challenge.
Keep in mind that the goal of a challenge is collaboration. The more resources you have and the clearer directions you give learners, the more positive results you may see.
Tip #9: Let learners lead
You read that right! If you struggle to create constant content to keep learners engaged outside the classroom, consider letting them take the lead. To do this, you might pose a class goal of having one learner post a question or create an interactive activity on the classroom page. Doing so would allow learners to show off the skills they’ve learned in your class and may even give you additional ideas to enhance your lessons in the future.
Tip #10: Make them feel special
Our final tip is a big one! While there is a lot to be said about keeping your learners engaged when taking a break, the biggest investment you can make as an online educator is to make your learners feel special. You can do this by reaching out after the class they did not attend and letting them know that they were missed.
There you have it! Ten tips to keep your Outschool learners coming back for more so you don’t have to worry about breaks. For more information on how to keep your online teaching business thriving, check out Outschool’s Educator Library.