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Dr. Tisha Shipley has been in education for over 23 years. She has taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, Gifted and Talented 3rd-6th Grades, Dr. Shipley was an elementary principal, a cheer coach, and was on...
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Ideas to Cultivate a Positive Classroom Experience!

Online teaching encourages us to think outside the box. It is different than that of a brick-and-mortar where you have your office, and your students stop by to just “visit .”Your colleagues are not next door to run to lunch, and there is no band practicing their marching routines for the big football game. But online learning offers so much, and as lifelong learners, we must show our students that it is just as great as attending an on-ground campus.

I myself, was an online learner during my doctorate program. It was a fantastic experience for me, and what I remember is not the classes I took or the grades I made but my professors. I am still in contact with the chair of my committee, and when I worked with her during the time I was there, we spoke often, e-mailed even more, and she made it known that she was accessible and wanted me to succeed. 

Since that time, I decided that I wanted to be a teacher that was visible, encouraging, uplifting, and honestly a “real person .”I wanted my students to see me as a lifelong learner, mentor, guide, teacher, and cheerleader but also a co-learner. I want my students to have the experience like my students on-ground would, and I tell them that I want the course to be engaging and collaborative. I want to share resources and ideas, experiences that worked and that didn’t work, and provide them with ideas on how they can be the best student possible.

I believe that building a classroom presence and environment is just as important as the content we teach. How does your course look when your students enter for the first time? How visible are you? Does it seem inviting? In my welcome e-mail (just like a postcard I would send out when I was teaching Kindergarten), I make sure the students know I understand what they are tackling. This is an e-mail I send out letting them know I understand what it is like to be an online learner:


Welcome to class. I want you to know that I, like you, was an online student. I received my doctorate online! I know what you are going through. I know what you are trying to balance! I am here for YOU! I am here to support you and make sure that you are successful!

We can do this together! I will make sure that this course is everything you hope it will be. I LOVE what I do, I am passionate about getting to know my students, and I am committed to helping you!

Please reach out to me anytime. I will be your biggest cheerleader for the next five weeks! If you are feeling overwhelmed, please contact me. You can do this, and you will succeed.

 “See” you soon!

I can’t wait to get to know you better! 

DR. Shipley

In the announcements before class starts, I also:

• post a short video to music about me and my family

• record a video of me telling my students about the course and introducing myself

• invite each student to set up a “meet and chat” the first week so they can get to know me as a real person that cares.

• ensure that my expectations are clear and posted.

• post in the introduction area following the guidelines of the discussion prompt

• make sure that I post a welcome to each introduction that is inviting, personalized, fun, and provides resources to start the course. Here is an example:

Hello Hannah, it is so great to meet you. I can’t wait to get to know you better. Your background and experience are so intriguing, and I hope you will share with us your ideas and what you have tried that has worked, and what you have had to change. I am so excited you are here; what a great role model you are for your children. Pat yourself on the back. 

I am here to help you in any way I can, so please feel free to reach out at any time. Welcome to Class, see you soon!

Dr. Shipley

Welcome Song

This is a really cool website I think you can use now and in the future!

I would love to set up a meet and chat with you at your convenience.

Learning quote for you: “Learning is the eye of the mind” –French Proverb

I believe it is important to share resources and ideas that we used in the “real world” when we were teaching. I use my social media sites to collaborate and engage with other professionals and show my students that they should find their “tribe”. I encourage them to follow me so that they learn to have a professional presence and footprint that they can use to build their brand of who they are in their profession. 

I think that we must encourage research and learning. To do this, we should offer a way that our students can engage with current topics out in the field. In my courses, I post each week:

•           In The News: This is the current happenings out in the field (links, books, videos); here is an example:

Hello Everyone! I hope you are having a wonderful week! I know you are busy, but I hope you will take some time to read through or scroll through these wonderful articles. You can save them for later or see if any help you in your professional role right at this moment! There are several pages worth of current articles on education. Remember that as a professional, research and staying current on practices and ideas is a vital part of your job! Have fun!

Happy Reading! articles

•           Books I’ve Read: I share important books that I think my students would benefit from, and they aren’t all about education; we have to remember our students should be well-rounded. Some books that I share: Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, Start with Why by Simon Sinek, and The First Days of School by Harry Wong. It always sparks a great conversation about what books they have or are currently reading.

•            Articles I have published that pertain to the content of that particular course. 

•            Tip of the week: These are ideas on how they can improve their initial discussion post and their responses to peers. These are posted every Monday. You can provide a tip on any topic you feel is important or that your students may need. Here is an example:

Write your response in word, and check grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Have someone else read your post to ensure it sounds correct before posting. Share your background knowledge, experience, and even stories you may have that are on topic. Make sure you are taking time to self-reflect and assess not only how you feel or what you think but what your peers are thinking too. When you respond to peers: refrain from saying “great post” or “I really like your post .”Be even more powerful with your words, and say something that you really feel, what you agreed with, disagreed with (in a respectful way, and tell why), or what you have experienced. 

•           Extension for the week: The extension is always something that goes along with that week’s topics or lesson. It is not required but gets students to think about what they can do to become lifelong learners and build a portfolio of artifacts. Here is an example:

This week find healthy fun recipes you can make in your classroom with your students. Cooking in the classroom should go hand in hand with the curriculum you are teaching. 

This week find centers you think are interesting and make a file on how you may use them in your classroom. 

•          Professional Vocabulary: It is important that our students are able to speak with colleagues and other professionals using terms that are important in their profession. I give them vocabulary words each week to begin using in their writing and speaking. Here is an example:

Vocabulary that you should begin using in your reading and writing this week: diverse learners, diverse strategies, differentiation, Common Core Standards, child-directed learning activities, small group activities, large group activities, higher order thinking skills, direct instruction, exploratory play, and guided discovery. 

In my discussion responses, I treat this as I would in a face-to-face classroom. I like to share links to articles that respond to the topic, share videos, a quote, and even hands-on ideas for them that I may have used. I also share my stories, experiences, and ideas as much as possible. I also often times respond back with a video of myself sharing my experiences. When I was in school, that was my favorite thing about each course hearing about what my teachers did in the “real world.” 

One of the most commented-on things that I do that students really like are my daily announcements. These announcements often have resources that pertain to the weekly topics but always have an uplifting message and or video that my students seem to really relate to. No matter what is going on in their lives, they can always use an encouraging shout-out from their professor. 

Welcome to another fantastic week! Stop and take a moment to reflect on what you have learned thus far! How are things going? How are you feeling about the discussions and assignments you are working on? Please reach out to me if you need anything at all!  Again, I am your biggest cheerleader, and I want to help you succeed. 

If you haven’t started a place to save all of your resources and ideas, please do that now! You will not regret it! As you move forward in your program, you will want to reflect and elaborate or maybe even change your ideas as you grow professionally. 

Here is a Monday Pep Talk video for you!

Daily Learning Quote: Don’t just make money; make a difference

Using multiple avenues to reach my students is vital for my teaching. I tell my students that “education is something no one can ever take from you” I leave my course with a “see ya later” e-mail and an announcement that includes:

It has been an honor to be a part of your journey. You are accomplishing something that not everyone gets to do! You can do this, and I am here to help you even after this course ends. Keep your head up, reach for the stars, and I can’t wait to see you at graduation. (I try to find a graduation video to post for inspiration). 

Dr. Shipley

Each time I set up a course, I try to think about what things I want my students to take away from each week. I try to find updated resources, links, etc., that will help them build on their current knowledge. I ask myself, “How can I be better this time”. I always take time to read over my student evaluations, and I take them to heart. I want to be the best teacher I can be, and I want their experience to be top-notch. Something I challenge you to do is choose one new thing for your next course. Add a resource, come up with an encouraging announcement, or set up virtual office hours through Zoom. Anything you can do to be present, active, and visible will only encourage your students to be the best they can also be.