My wife has worked in sales for years, and one of her phrases is, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This phrase holds true for a number of areas in life. As a teacher, I knew that the first few days of the school year were very important. In those first few days of class, my students would begin to form their opinions of my course for the entire year.
I once had a teacher who jokingly shared with us that she had found the “best way” to start the year off. She would enter the class, walk across the room without saying anything, and kick the trash can over. That would certainly set a tone for the course, but I don’t think that would give students a positive outlook for the year.
Students need to start their year off on the right foot in any scenario, but especially as they begin in an online program. The first few days will likely include making adjustments to all the new ways of doing things and navigating their way around their courses. They will walk through the orientation program that will guide them through our Learning Management System, Buzz, and learn how to contact teachers and get connected to the social arena, all while beginning their coursework.
How can you as parents and supervisors, play a role in setting your student up to start well this school year?
In their first week of classes, we encourage you to spend 15 minutes a day with your student at the start of each day.
- Come alongside them and look over the course objectives and develop a task list for each day. Discuss goals and finishing points for the day so they have clear expectations of how the day should be structured.
- Help them organize and prepare for what will be expected on assignments.
- Make a proposed schedule for the day so they have an understanding of when they can come to a stopping point. Be sure to include times to step away for a break.
- The next day, do the same thing, but also look back and evaluate how the previous day went. It is important to note not only the things that may not have worked well but the things that did! This can keep your student encouraged as they look ahead to the rest of the semester.
- Make adjustments as necessary until your student develops a good routine and feels confident about navigating their daily assignments independently.
Students need a good first week to gain a positive outlook on the year ahead. They also need to develop good habits and routines early on in order to be successful.
Written by Scott Berggren