Preparing Teachers for Online Instruction

By Mary Mitchell and Kay Ruhle
Florida Virtual School
Online Teacher Mentors
How does one prepare an experienced traditional schoolteacher for online instruction? A new virtual teacher needs a multi-team, preparatory approach. He needs content training by an experienced teacher, instructional leadership to support him, human resources to start him, a training team to show him the “nuts and bolts†of the process and an administrative team to supply the financial and personnel support. A new virtual teacher needs one-on-one, individualized and personalized instruction. An academic team leader and school-wide mentor provide personal support after the initial training. A new virtual teacher needs frequent professional development on best practices and teaching tips. There’s an array of methods to accomplish this, ranging from internal discussion board, voicemail, Email, team conference calls, staff retreats and meetings. These vehicles provide avenues for all school personnel to share their personal growth with the entire staff. A new virtual teacher needs a year. Teaching online is a steep learning curve for the most experienced teacher! Recall the difference between your first and second years of teaching in a traditional setting. Becoming a virtual teacher means doing the first year all over again…provide support and time for the novice virtual teacher. So, how does one prepare an experienced traditional schoolteacher for online instruction? The technique must include school-wide support, individual assistance, pertinent resources and, most important, time! All are essentials in nurturing educators who are blazing a new trail!

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