Online tutoring is becoming more accepted for people every day. With the coronavirus pandemic still affecting the world, there’s never been a better time to work remotely.
Advancements in technology are opening doors to new ways of learning and removing geographical boundaries for everybody. Many traditional teachers are finding success in learning how to teach online. The ability to work from anywhere in the world while managing your own time, rate and workload is hugely appealing. Meanwhile, the number of students looking to learn online is skyrocketing.
That’s not to say that becoming an online tutor doesn’t come with its own challenges. Such a shift in the style of work can be overwhelming. But, fear not! Starting to teach online is easier each day. This guide will show you how to teach online classes and help you find your footing in your new career.
#1 Pick Up Some Basic Technology
You really don’t need much technology to start working as an online tutor. The only essential tech is:
- A computer
- A fast and stable internet connection
- Video calling software
- Your computer will likely have its own camera and mic already built in, but, if you want to level up your lesson quality, then it’s well worth investing in a proper microphone and a better camera.
Having this technology makes it possible to give online classes. But it also highlights a key difference between online and physical classes—if something goes wrong with your setup, there’s no IT professional around to help you fix it. Having a decent understanding of your equipment, both the hardware and the software, can save you from missing classes. If something vital gives up on you, it’s important to have an alternative to offer your students, like a replacement class with extra time or activities.
#2 Set Up Your Classroom Environment
By far the best place to set up your dedicated workspace is at home. Working from home gives you control over your classroom environment. You might want to try removing things that distract you, ensuring your desk is clean each day, and investing in a truly comfortable chair. The more it feels like your own space, the more productive and focused you can be!
Whether you’re working from home, in a café, or in a co-working space, it’s always good practice to test your calls before you start tutoring there. Try calling a friend and see if they can hear you clearly. A quiet space is essential. You want your students to be able to hear every detail of how you speak. If there’s lots of background noise, you’ll need to fix it before you start giving classes. You should set your camera up in front of you so you’re looking towards the student, not sideways at a screen. Try to angle it so your face and any hand gestures are easy to see. For the best lighting, sit with windows in front of you.
#3 Engage With Your Students
Truly engaging with your students means getting on their wavelength. The more you can understand online culture and platforms, the better you can engage with them. This is something many tutors struggle with when moving from offline to online classes. It’s not always an easy transition because so many factors are different. For example, the element of physical space is lost, and you can’t bring real objects to an online class. However, online tutoring also has its own advantages to boost engagement. Being able to digitally track progress and give feedback on set goals allows tutors to gamify their students’ progress—a proven method of improving educational outcomes. You can take progress tracking a step further by including reward systems for students who do their work consistently, hit deadlines, and learn by themselves outside of class.
#4 Encourage Communication
Fostering a genial atmosphere is important for making students feel welcome in your class. Working in a remote, digital setup can cause the class to lose some of its warmth and connection between tutor and student. Here are three ways to encourage communication:
- Make sure your students know when you’re available, as well as how they can contact you. It’s important to be as accessible as possible so that students feel that you support them.
- Set weekly class on the same day and hour to make it easier for students to schedule their week, and associate this time as “lesson time”. Also, checking in with students at least once between classes can go a long way to improving attendance.
- Consider common ground for group classes. A good way to foster communication between students is to find something they all enjoy, such as a popular TV show, and incorporate it into the lesson plan. The more fun the entire experience is, the more comradery there will be.
#5 Plan Your Classes
In an online setting, your ability to improvise becomes more limited, especially since the student is not physically in front of you. And, with 1-on-1 classes, you can’t split the students up to practice speaking together. On the flip side, these limitations can be to the students’ advantage. If you make lesson plans and materials accessible on an online teaching platform before the class begins, your students can set expectations about the class, and even get a head start on reading. As with traditional classes, it’s important to keep in mind that students learn differently and that one lesson plan may not work for all your students. Private classes make it more practical to customize your plans. Since you have a single student to focus on at a time, you can gear the lesson to what works best for them.