I got a teaching ego check recently. I agreed to teach a section of ENG220 Technical Writing this term, my first online teaching experience. No problem, I thought, I got this. I was confident going in, but teaching online has been a lot more challenging than I anticipated.
Early in my career, I wasn’t a great teacher. One student early on offered this insightful nugget on ratemyteachers.com:
And I was. It took some time, but I figured out my style. Working face-to-face with students everyday I was able to listen to them both verbally and nonverbally to check for comprehension. I developed and things got better.
Overtime I got good. Course work was well-received; outcomes were met; standards were hit. I got positive feedback from students and I was enjoying the craft of teaching. One of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received was from a faculty member here at the college who said that I have “great teaching chops.”
Then I started teaching online and it was almost as if I was back at square one. To be fair to myself, this term is going pretty well. I was lucky in that a few faculty members willingly shared course content I could work from. Nevertheless, it was a huge pedagogical paradigm shift during the first few weeks.
The biggest difference was the lack of that nonverbal element. I was resigned to trust that my instructions were clear and that everything made sense student side. I have learned to trust that students will reach out if they have questions, which they do. This semester has been a huge lesson in trust. So far so good. I’m enjoying the transition.
If you think you’ve got “great teaching chops,” I challenge you to “Check Yo Self” by teaching online. I guarantee you’ll learn something about your practice. Have you already transitioned to teaching online? I’d love to hear about your experience — feel free to reply below.