Do Our Students "Hear" Us?

Kathleen R. Perkins
Florida Virtual School
Science Instructor
How do we effectively communicate with students online as opposed to the brick and mortar classroom? Interestingly enough, except for distance, there is no difference. An effective communicator successfully delivers the message from a distance or face-to-face. Are there columns you read regularly in your newspaper? Do you have favorite authors whose books you await with anticipation? Do you know the journalist or author personally? Probably not; however, that journalist or author reads like an old friend who has the same interests and outlook on the world you have. Students in our classroom read our communiqués with the same interest, and occasionally the lack of interest, as students in any brick and mortar classroom. Most are very aware and appreciative of interesting and helpful feedback on their work. Effective feedback applied to future submissions, which are in turn recognized and acknowledged by the teacher, motivates students. Students identify with the teacher who demonstrates an interest in their extracurricular activities. This can take the form of an e-card on a birthday or good luck wishes on an upcoming competition posted on the announcement page. Students know when the teacher is interested; those vibrations are generated electronically and/or personally. The spoken word has no ownership of that special enjoyment that comes with the sharing of ideas and thoughts with students. That enjoyment is unique to the teaching profession whether online or in person.