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    • #4660
      Laura Berlage

      beaded barretteNo matter where or how you are teaching, mastering you’r class story is essential.  It will help you not only craft your class description and pitch it to host organizations and students, but it will also be essential for helping your students understand what to expect from your class and how things “roll” with you as an online instructor.  This is also an excellent time for you to really nail down the bones of your class–the what happens when, who does what, and what you expect of your students and yourself.

      Here are questions your bright-eyed but somewhat nervous students are wondering as they log into your first session:

      • Who is this instructor and what is their backstory/qualifications in this medium?
      • What am I going to learn and what project will I create in this class?
      • How much work happens in class and how much between classes?
      • What materials outside of the live time are available to support me in this endeavor and how do I access them?
      • Is there a time limit to the availability of these support materials, and if so what does that entail?
      • What happens if I get behind?
      • What happens if I’m ahead of the class?
      • What happens if I get stuck with my project between sessions?

      Offering students guidelines to answer these questions before they even ask them (usually right after round robin intros) is an excellent way to set the tone of your class.  For instance, if there are pre-recorded tutorials and/or written instructions available, point this out and how to access them (not everyone reads their emails well and some folks have to hear you say it).

      If you want to make yourself available to help troubleshoot problems between classes, offer this.  This is your personal choice!  I give students my studio email and invite them to take pictures and send me a note if they get stuck, stating that some issues I may be able to help with as a response while others may be best handled together at the next session.  This gets used by students rarely, but they appreciate the safety net.

      If the class is being recorded, let students know, as well as how they’ll access that recording (this can be a very different process with different host organizations) and how long that recording will be available.  If you don’t know, ask the host partner to answer this one.

      Help students know the pacing of the class and that along the way you’ll help them know how much homework there is between sessions.  If your course is self-pacing, help them understand how that works.  Be concrete.  Even if it’s your first time, go with your outline you’ve made and learn from that, while being a little flexible when needed.  Remember the beloved theater addage:  if you look like you know what you’re doing, people will believe you.  That doesn’t mean be cocky; it means believing in yourself and the work you’ve put into this beautiful class you’re offering.

      Take a moment to actually answer the student questions posed above.  How does this help you solidify your class plan?  How does this help you create talking points for your class intro when you first meet your students?  What questions are on your mind about mastering the story of your class?

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