Educational research has shown us time and again that there is so much more to learning than just hearing the spoken words of a teacher and repeating them back verbatim. To truly grasp new concepts, obtain new skills, and make real-life connections to the materials, students must become actively engaged members of a learning community.
One thing that sets the most successful teachers apart is understanding that student learning behaviors directly impact the learning outcome of every student on their roster. Student learning behaviors include all of the actions that students take to access the new information being taught to them while also behaving in a responsible manner.
For example, students who listen attentively, follow directions, attempt to solve problems, and never give up are significantly more likely to succeed in class than those who don’t exhibit these positive behaviors. In fact, something as simple as daydreaming, coming in late, or falling asleep in class can put students far enough behind that they struggle to catch up, feel overwhelmed, and eventually give up trying.
And some lesson plans can even be completely derailed when a student’s behavior disrupts the entire class. Examples of such disruptive behaviors include yelling out, disrespecting the teacher or other classmates, or refusing to participate in group assignments.
That is why successful teachers understand the importance of establishing classroom rules and procedures early on and practicing them regularly throughout the year. But again, going over a list of rules and procedures and asking the students to repeat them does not lead to true learning. True learning results when the students are given clear and consistent information on what is expected of them in class, they regularly practice positive behaviors, and they understand both the positive and negative consequences of their actions.
The good news is that these steps work just as well in a virtual classroom as they do in person. So students who are working online should have the same expectations when it comes to student learning behaviors. Virtual teachers should expect students to actively participate, listen carefully, follow directions, and put forth their best effort just as they would in a traditional classroom.
When all teachers care enough to set high expectations in their classrooms, all students have a better chance of succeeding academically both now and in the future. Because teaching and reinforcing student learning behaviors positively impacts student learning.