Semester courses on Outschool offer an incredible opportunity to thoroughly explore your subject matter, build long-lasting relationships with learners, and secure consistent enrollments. Semester classes must meet at least once a week for a minimum of 8 weeks in length, and most are scheduled to last between 8-12 weeks. Let’s go over best practices and educator tips for creating a successful semester course.

Write Class Listings With Intention

Your class listing is your first opportunity to connect with prospective learners and parents. Include as much relevant information in your listing as possible, including any pre-requisites or necessary experience, materials and tech tools required, and a detailed description of what you’ll be teaching. Including a course video in your listing can also help increase your enrollments (step-by-step tutorial here).

Your class description should include a week-by-week overview of what material you’ll be covering in each lesson. By including this level of detail, you make your course more appealing to discerning parents and learners, plus help boost your search engine optimization on Outschool. For example, if your semester math class includes instruction on long division, fractions, and multiplication, including those keywords in your description will help your class appear for learners searching specifically for those topics.

Take a look at some examples of great class listings here.

Plan Flexible Lessons

The great thing about spending several months with the same learners is that you can truly get to know their skills and find opportunities to tailor curriculum directly to them. So start off with a plan for each week, but leave yourself some wiggle room to adjust your lessons to create the best possible experience for your classroom. You might be surprised by a group of learners’ passion for one aspect of your topic and want to explore that more, or perhaps there’s a gap in some learners’ skill levels that will require extra time spent on that element.

As you consider international learners, offer flexible options for class materials, as well. Some items that are readily available in your home country may not be so easy to find elsewhere - so offer alternatives when possible and have a backup plan should a learner be unable to find a certain resource.

Design Curriculum for Your Age Range

Your lesson plans should always be appropriate for the age group that you’re working with, and a semester class with extended screen time means you’ll need to consider how you’ll keep different groups of learners engaged over time. If your target age range is upper elementary or above, this is a great list of online teaching tools that will encourage engagement and interaction from your classroom. For more on how child development and education intersect, take a look at this educator course.

Find Ways to Build Community

Your classroom will be spending at least 8 weeks together, and finding ways to help learners build relationships with one another (and you!) is a special piece of teaching a semester class. Think about how you can:

  • Incorporate group projects into your curriculum
  • Assign fun activities in the Outschool classroom designed to spark engagement (like creating a Bitmoji virtual locker or Pixton)
  • Ask learners to introduce themselves using the video feature in the classroom before your course starts, and use icebreakers to keep getting to know each other over time!

Additionally, focus on creating inclusive lesson plans that help learners of all identities feel welcome and safe in your classroom. When every learner is able to positively express themselves and feel represented in class, your entire classroom community benefits.

Communicate With Families

Semester classes call for a heightened level of engagement with parents and families. Parents will appreciate frequent check-ins from you on how their learner is doing, what’s happening in your course, and what work or outcomes they should be seeing from their learner. Use the Outschool classroom for all communication, and consider how you’ll keep learners in the loop with @mentions and e-mail notifications.

As you develop your semester class, consider signing up for a personalized, 1:1 coaching session with a member of the Outschool Class Quality team to ask questions and discuss instructional strategies. Keep Outschool class standards in mind in order to get your class approved, and dive into that long-term course with well-planned, engaging lesson plans!