If you are wondering how to be a successful teacher in your school’s Learning Management System (LMS) I have some tips for you:
“Did you Check Online?”
Point everyone here, every time. Create the expectation that the procedure is always to check your online classroom first.
This is the place where you can use the calendar, or the course announcements, or the course homepage to tell everyone dues dates. This is where you can upload the rubric for everyone (read: parents) to see – that way they do not have to email you the night before in a lather. This is where kids can submit work, even if they are not able to make it to class (a teacher can dream, can’t she?).
Sounds like you just created a huge expectation of the work you have to do?!?
Don’t let this worry you because…
Control your Online Classroom
You get to control what is in your online portion of your classroom. As the teacher, you control the non-negotiables of what goes into your online classroom and what remains in the face-to-face classroom.
Actively Learn about your LMS
You are going to actively learn about your LMS. Learn the features of your LMS you have to work with, and then decide which to use based on their benefits to your style of classroom/teaching.
All LMS have features, but not all will be helpful to your style of teaching. Learn the features and then evaluate each one to see if it enhances or complicates your teaching. If it does not make your teaching better, do not use it; save out that part to include in the face-to-face portion of your class. You know your teaching style best, or your teacher best-friend does. Take an honest look at how an LMS helps – or doesn’t help – you and then move forward decisively.
An Exclusive Online-Only Offer
Plan to make something(s) only available via your online classroom in the LMS. Encourage practice by all participants in the classroom, students and parents, in logging in and finding things. This might mean you need to get some outside your classroom perspective on how user-friendly your online course is to navigate, but that is what your teacher best-friend is for! The first couple of times you might have to allow extra time for novices to become proficient at navigating, saving, submitting, etc. But after the first couple attempts, you should observe huge efficiency gains!
Aim for Big Impact, Little Investment
You might remember my post about Big Impact, Little Investment and if not you’d be forgiven. The gist was to find those LMS features which most closely align with the most important type of learning occurring in your classroom and move it online. Do you give many lectures? If so a great impact might be to make those lectures, or slides, or notes available online. That drive traffic/use to the LMS, extends access to the learning for students/families, and help s your online classroom underscore and promote the most important learning activities in your face-to-face classroom.
Not everything can be grader faster or easier online, but doesn’t your LMS have some auto-grading feature? Most do. And once you find it, consider how you can work smarter and not harder. While it takes some front-end loading, and maybe that techy-teacher on your hall to explain it. This can be your favorite part of your LMS – when it does work for you!
Any of these tips can help you make your class more open to students and their families. All of these tips together will make you a model for other teachers on your hall for LMS use. And along the way, you will likely share these tips with others, because that’s what teachers do.