As learners head back to school this year, it’s important to remember that “back to school” means different things to different people. Families may be looking to supplement traditional schooling or searching for a tutor to help their learners succeed in complex subjects. Homeschooling families could be looking for academic support or social classes to spend time with other learners of like interest.
As an Outschool educator, you can play a key role in easing the transition back into “school mode” for your learners, no matter what kind of schooling they do.
Keep reading to find out how you can be a support to Outschool learners and their families.
1. Get to Know Your Learners
By getting to know more about your learners – their likes, strengths, challenges, and backgrounds – you can set yourself up for success right from the beginning. While some learners may be excited and happy to be in class again, others may feel anxious, angry, or overwhelmed. Some may also be further behind others in their learning journey. The more you know, the better you can adapt your classes to accommodate learners’ needs and create a more inclusive learning environment for everyone.
Ask learners early in the course about their expectations and what they need, or use surveys to gain a better understanding of your classroom. Keep checking in with them throughout the course and start to build those personal connections that will help you provide the best instruction possible.
Curious to find out how you can become an ACE educator? Learn more about Outschool’s professional development program for creating a more inclusive classroom.
2. Create Routines and Structure
We are all creatures of habit, and you can help set learners up for success by establishing clear expectations for your class. Even transitioning to academic-style classes from programs like in-person summer camps or playgroups can be an adjustment, so remember to have compassion for your learners as they get back into the swing of things.
Regardless of whether your classes focus on academic, active, artistic, or extracurricular interests, help bring out learners’ enthusiasm for topics they are passionate about with exciting and age-appropriate activities. By implementing clear and consistent routines, like starting and ending class the same way each time you meet, you can help learners gain a sense of order. Let learners know how the course will be structured, what they can expect to learn and accomplish, and how you’ll support them throughout the class.
3. Encourage Interaction
As an educator, your virtual classroom should create opportunities to make awesome connections with you and their classmates through interactive dialogue and activities. Use a small amount of time at the beginning of your class to play ice-breaking games and help learners form bonds based on social or silly interactions. During instructions, use group discussions, Zoom tools, or other online teaching strategies to encourage active participation from all learners.
4. Offer a variety of classes
To reach the broadest amount of learners, you may want to consider creating a mix of classes to offer. For example, if you teach middle school math, you can build a semester class that meets at the same time and day each week and share grades for homeschool families. You can also take that class and pare it down as an afterschool supplemental program that learners can join to strengthen what they learned at school.
From there, you can offer 1-on-1 tutoring for learners who cannot make a group class time or even a flex class for those who prefer asynchronous learning. The opportunities are endless! Use the Educator Insights to see which topics and classes families are searching for. Just make sure that you’re adhering to Outschool’s class content policy when picking the topics or themes to teach about.
5. Be Intentional When Giving Feedback
Use specific, positive praise to let learners know you appreciate their contributions to class when appropriate. For example, “Luca, you did a great job solving those addition problems today.” When necessary, redirect learners who are not meeting your behavior expectations with kind and direct feedback. Help learners find their place in your classroom by supporting them as they strive to meet expectations, grow a passion or learn a skill, and actively participate in their learning.
Educators have a unique ability to help ease learners’ minds and facilitate a smooth transition back to a consistent learning schedule. By being sensitive to the individual needs of learners, educators can help make this time of year a powerful piece of each learner’s educational journey. With the right support, any learner can thrive – even amid change.