#14 – Develop a Positive Teacher Presence

Unpacking Education November 18, 2020 23 min

Unlike face-to-face teaching that relies on your physical presence, teaching presence in virtual learning depends on course design and organization, as well as your facilitation style during online interactions. How are you engaging your students in remote learning? What forms of communication can you use to interact in real-time and/or self-paced learning?

Join our Digital Learning Specialists as they talk about the importance of spending time developing connections among your students to help build a positive and supportive online learning environment, where even brief interactions hold value for students and motivate them to return every day. Learn how to use audio and video to help you make connections when you can’t be physically present in your students’ lives.

Paul Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist
Rena Clark
Digital Learning Coach
Pamela Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist

Below, you will find resources and tips shared during the podcast to support your virtual-teaching goals.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou, author


In this week’s episode, we discuss the following strategies and resources that are available on AVID Open Access for you to explore in more depth.

Support Students During Remote Learning by Establishing a Positive Teacher Presence

A teacher who is positively present in a virtual classroom can keep students more connected and engaged, as well as provide support and guidance—whether it’s to offer academic feedback to inform learning or to support students’ social and emotional needs.

Strategies to Improve Your Virtual Teacher Presence

Engage Students During Self-Paced Virtual Learning: Communication is key. Set up routines to provide regular and clear communication for students and their families. Ensure that students are seeing and hearing from you in their asynchronous learning space every day, with morning introductions, video directions for activities, and feedback to their online work that is frequent and timely.

  • Video: During self-paced learning, it is so easy for students to feel disconnected from you and their classmates. To encourage students to return to their asynchronous virtual-learning environment every day, create good morning videos to welcome students back and set the tone for the day. As much as possible, use videos for directions to activities.
  • Discussions: We can also leave our digital footprints in asynchronous virtual-learning environments by being intentional when responding to students in discussion threads.
    • Use each student’s name when responding to their posts to personalize the feedback.
    • Create smaller breakout discussions, with a maximum of six students. This is less overwhelming and establishes a dynamic where all voices can be heard.
    • Weave what was said in the student breakout discussions into other class activities to validate student contributions that are relevant to their learning.

Focus on Energy and Personal Connections During Live Virtual Learning: There is no replacement for seeing a teacher’s face and hearing their voice. Fortunately, this can still happen during live, synchronous teaching sessions. While it may be virtual, this real-time interaction can be a meaningful substitute for traditional, face-to-face classroom interactions.

  • Positive Energy: Teaching during a pandemic has been hard. Showing up each morning in your virtual classroom with a smile and lots of energy sets the tone for your students. Positive energy is contagious. If you are having fun, so will your students.
    • Greet students by name as they enter the live video meeting.
    • Engage students in a “Do Now” prompt that they can respond to in the chat while you are waiting for all of your students to arrive.
    • Illustrate your interest and positive presence by responding to chat posts, tagging students’ names.
  • Focus on Student Voice: Use synchronous time to put the focus on student voices. Provide opportunities for students to share ideas, collaborate, and reflect together. Save your voice for prerecorded videos that can be used to provide instructions.

Digital Tools

Let us help you look for new ways to engage students online. We share tips for the following digital tool in this week’s episode.

Use Video to Engage Students: Screencasting software is an essential element in a remote-teaching toolkit. Create screen recordings for video lessons, feedback, and other communication.

  • Loom (Tips) is a screen recording tool that is free for students and teachers. It is ideal for creating instructional videos or video messages that can be shared as a link or embedded directly into web pages and email.
    • The software allows users to record their computer screen, their web camera, or both simultaneously, while also capturing audio.
    • This user-friendly tool is ideal for students to record videos that demonstrate their learning.