Calling yourself a good teacher is one thing, but being able to back that up inside of your virtual classroom is a whole other ball game. In order to be considered an effective instructor, no matter what the subject, you will need certain personality traits and skills, some of which you may not be aware of.
1. You Must Be Patient
This is a no-brainer, really. In online education you must assume that you’re always speaking to someone with the most basic level of understanding, regardless of any outlined prerequisites that may be in place. This means you’ll have to field some very basic and oftentimes frustrating questions regarding your courses. Having the patience to answer these questions with compassion and understanding is a hallmark of a great educator. Yes, it’s a pain, but you’ll be amazed at how big of an impact you can have on your students by simply showing that you care.
2. You Must Be Passionate
Knowing you subject matter is, of course, very important. However, with so many things competing for your student’s attention these days (social media, tv, etc.) it’s imperative that you let your passion for your subject shine through. If you’re not enthusiastic and happy to be teaching your course, how do you expect your student to reciprocate that emotion while taking it? This is why you should choose the subjects you teach very carefully, and only focus your online courses on subjects that truly interest you.
3. You Must Be a Great Communicator
With online education, we don’t have the luxury taking questions (in many cases), and we don’t get a chance to reiterate our point in the event that we don’t get it across the first time. This is why being an effective communicator is an essential skill of any good online educator.
You should also be adept at general conversation. When you’re recording a class or presentation for online distribution, you should do so with the idea of conversation in mind. Never talk at your viewer, talk to them instead. Imagine you’re sitting down with that person at their desk and you’re literally just walking them through whatever it is that you’re teaching them. Doing so will not only help you get your point across, but it will also help to engage the learner and ensure that they feel comfortable with you as their instructor.
4. You Must Have Thick Skin
The internet is a cruel place. That is an unfortunate fact. If you’re willing to produce content online then you better be ready for the inevitable avalanche of negativity that will come your way. No matter how good you are or how hard you work to please everyone, you can’t. There will always be unhappy customers and there will always be “trolls” who (seemingly) live to put others down. You have to learn how to take the good with the bad, and you also have to learn how to shake off the naysayers.
5. You Must Stay Humble
Even though the internet can be cruel, it can also be very rewarding. Every single day there are new stars being born on the web, and with sites like Udemy and YouTube the barrier for entry is lower than it ever has been. It’s never been easier to get your work out to thousands (or even millions) of people. However, even if you get a sudden burst of fame, you should always remain humble. If you allow success to go to your head, there will always be someone there to quickly smack you back down to earth… Trust me.
I firmly believe that sharing your expertise and educating others is one of the most noble things that you can do in any profession. With more and more people turning to online resources for their education, it’s up to us to train the future workforce(s) of the world. We should take pride in that and strive to be better and do better for our students each and every day.