One piece of advice that I give to teachers starting out in this online world of teaching is to create true connections with English learners, students, and fellow teachers.
My approach to reaching out and connecting with others online has changed dramatically over the past couple of years, and it’s only recently that I have truly come to realize why this is so important when doing what we do.
However, things were much different when I first started out.
When I created my website and started teaching online back in 2008/9, I felt that there were only just a handful of people doing something similar. I did a little research into my “competitors,” and I had a sudden rush of panic when I found a website that was trying to achieve something similar to me.
I came across sites that had better marketing plans and designs, and I mistakingly thought that there was only a certain amount of room for creative teachers who wanted to move their make their mark online.
It took me a long time to reach out to my fellow onliners, and for many years, I remained isolated.
In addition to being disconnected from my fellow teachers, I didn’t put enough effort into setting up my site in way that visitors could connect with me. I was very apprehensive about putting information about myself on my site and on other platforms. This meant that I wasn’t giving English learners the ability to make that important initial connection.
But, after receiving a lot of referrals a couple of years ago, my confidence as a teacher started to grow, and this is when my mentality changed. I started seeing the wonderful things that resulted from making meaningful connections, and I went from being a lone ranger to someone who felt supported by like-minded people.
If you are involved or want to be involved in online teaching, read on to learn how connecting with others will help you find more students, improve your teaching, and make you feel part of a greater collaborative community.
Why and How to Connect With English Learners and Students
On Your Website
Your website is a place where your potential students come to find out more about you and your lessons. When visiting new teaching websites, I far too often see a message that is impersonal and one that makes no attempt to resonate with the English learners who visit the site. I see the same mistakes that I made being played out over again.
Instead of going through the problems, desires, and solutions, many sites focus on features and facts. In addition, sometimes there is no face or name to be found anywhere.
But, as I have learned, students want to connect personally with their potential teachers before signing up. They want to know that there is a real person behind the information who is dedicated to and effective in what they do.
To ensure a high conversion rate you must make connecting with your learners a priority. This can be achieved by including information about who you are and by injecting your personality into what your write. Include pictures, and if want to take that extra step, videos.
It might be hard for some of you to take this step (like it was for me), but it is such a vital part in you becoming a successful online teacher.
Once you have worked out your message and feel confident about putting yourself out there, the next step is to connect with English learners on different platforms.
Don’t just post things with links back to your site, but instead think about ways that you can connect in meaningful way. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend hours communicating with English learners on forums, as sometimes just showing that you are care about what you do is enough.
To highlight this, I want to share a little experiment that I did this week on Facebook.
I looked at the new likes that I had one of my Facebook pages and added those in my target martet as friends. Around 40% accepted my request, and those that did received a little message from me. This message was very basic and just thanked them for liking my page and asked them a quick question about their learning.
From the ten people that I contacted, two messaged me back asking for a trial lesson.
What I found interesting about this is that they had both known that I offered lessons before I sent the message. But, the friend request and message most likely made them feel connected to me and gave them the nudge they needed to take the initial step.
This is just one small example of why I believe it is important it is to ensure that you are connecting with learners in your niche, and I’ll be experimenting with other methods in the coming weeks.
Your Current Students
One of the things that excites me most about teaching one-to-one online is that you become much more than just an English teacher. In my case, I am also a friend to my students, a mentor, a motivator, and a language coach. There are also days when I feel that I am a life coach!
To be able to be all of the above to online English learners from around the world is what I love most about my job. The connections that I make aren’t just important in terms of the relationships that we share, but also an integral part of ensuring that my students make the progress that they desire.
This connection can’t be made with every student, and that is why I suggest choosing a niche that has they types of English learners that you enjoy working with.
In addition, I also strive to help my learners make a connection with the English language. When I start working with a new student, I go through the process of finding the resources they need to make English relevant to them and give the information and motivation they require to immerse themselves in the language.
Finding the music, television shows, podcasts, articles, and other resources that are relevant to your student, and introducing these materials into your lessons, is the key to your learners fully connecting with the language, which in turn resuls in a burst of motivation and progress.
Why You Should Connect With Other Teachers
Through this blog I’ve been able to make some great relationships with other online teachers and with those who want to move their teaching online.
As mentioned in the introduction, I was very hesitant about doing this for the first couple of years; I guess it came down to me thinking that it would be exciting to do everything on my own.
But I’ve learned that connecting and collaborating with other teachers is just so much more rewarding and has helped me grow as a teacher. I feel incredibly excited about what working with others in the same industry is going to bring over the next months and years. This change of mentality was the driving force behind the creation of this blog and my renewed motivation for creating something that really matters.
I have learned so much from connecting with my fellow teachers, and I have come across so many great resources that have improved my lessons.
But, there is much more to it than that. These connections also make me feel that I am part of something bigger. Speaking with other teachers who share my passion for online teaching, and ELT in general, gives me the extra motivation to continue what I’m doing and to keep growing as a teacher.
Over to You
I would love for you to share your ideas in the comment section below about how you currently connect with English learners. Speaking of sharing, if you have enjoyed this post, I would be so grateful if you could share it with others.
And finally, I love hearing from my fellow teachers. So, don’t hesitate to get in touch and connect with me.