I love that “AHA!” moment. When I was a student teacher there was a time I thought I should throw in the towel, but then it happened. I was able to help a student figure out exponential relationships using the tale of Alice in Wonderland and exploring how Alice’s eating and drinking habits affected her overall size. When the student finally understood the concept, his eyes lit up, his posture straightened and a literal gasp escaped his lips. Not only did he understand an exponential relationship, but I knew I was hooked on teaching.
Many think it is a challenge for online teachers to experience that “aha” moment because we are not physically in the same room as our students. For me, teaching online does not mean I don’t hear the voice of my students. There are many tools we use to allow students to communicate with their peers and their teachers. Students are able to give green checks for approval, or red x’s for a negative response. Writing on the whiteboard by hand or typing with unique fonts are all ways to hear the voice of the student.
One of my favorite opportunities is our passing period. In a brick and mortar school students would have 5-10 minutes to move between classes. In the virtual classroom we have a 5-10 minute passing period where students are logging into the virtual classroom. This is a great time for students to share special projects they have been working on, their hobbies, and anything else they are excited about. We use this time to learn about our students and connect with them on a personal level.
Students have the opportunity in classes to use the microphone as well. Using this picture of my daughter, I remind students that they should do a sound check and have their microphones ready at the beginning of each class. It is really fun for students to interact with each other in both large-class sessions and smaller break-out room groups for peer-supported learning. A lot of students have commented that they like hearing other students and it helps them feel connected to each other as well.
Being a virtual teacher also allows me the time to speak to our students on the phone one-on-one. This is another great way to learn about the student and hear their voice while providing support as needed.
Sometimes I don’t get to physically see or hear the “AHA!” moments- but when I do, it still makes my heart leap. It’s one way I know I’m impacting students.