Start the Semester Right A Time-Saving Checklist for Online Teachers

Start a New Semester Right With This Online Teacher Checklist

An online teacher checklist can help speed up your preparation time for a new semester.

Because the new semester always arrives just a little faster than you expected. Before you know it, it’s almost time to jump back into teaching online.

So it helps to have an online teacher checklist to help your preparation go smoothly. This makes sure you start off on the right foot and set things up for a successful semester – for you AND your students…

Whether you’re a seasoned virtual educator or new to the world of online teaching, using a checklist can ensure that you’re prepared, organized, and equipped to provide your students with the best possible learning experience.

There always seems to be a lot to organise before your online class starts.
That’s why a quick checklist like this one can be so helpful.

Instead of working from multiple lists, just run through the points below.
You’ll be all set to maximise your students’ achievement – and minimize your own stress levels.

A 20 Point Checklist for a New Semester of Online Teaching

1.  See if the LMS has been updated

The IT Department may have performed some updates to your LMS between semesters.
So some of your core processes might have changed.
Do a quick check to make sure you can find all the relevant links and buttons that you’ll be needing on a daily basis.


online teaching checklist - LMS updates

2.  Update your course materials

Perhaps you kept a list of minor changes you wanted to make during last semester.
You might want to replace a reading or two, add a new section of text, or a link to a recommended video.

Do that now, and you’ll be working with refreshed course materials that are right up to date.

3.  Tweak assessments to be clearer and easier to follow

Did you notice last semester that students tended to misinterpret one or more of your assessment instructions?

Now’s the time to clarify them for the new cohort.
You don’t need to rewrite them: often just a few words need to be replaced to make the requirements clearer.

4.  Fix typos

After you’ve been away from the online course materials for awhile, you come back to them with fresh eyes.

This can mean that typos ‘jump out’ at you, and are much easier to see.
When you correct them, you deliver a more professional and user-friendly learning experience.

5.  Double check course readings are available

Live links on websites change regularly, and without warning.
Rather than direct your students to a broken link, check them now, and either replace the broken links with live ones, or convert your readings to PDFs that can always be accessed in the LMS.

And of course, make sure you work within the laws of copyright in the process.


online teaching checklist – course readings


6.  Clarify technical instructions that students struggled with last semester

You probably have instruction screens in your LMS which explain the basic processes that students will need to follow during the course.
For example: how to upload assignments, how to plan the semester, or which referencing system to use.

Do a quick read-through to see if these instructions could be shorter or clearer.

7.  Update due dates for assignments and correct the online calendar

Sometimes the LMS will automatically update your assignment due dates, but often you need to do this manually.

Either way, it’s important to triple check the assignment due dates before the beginning of semester – this is much less time consuming than having to correct the dates once things are underway.

8.  Pre-load announcements for the whole semester in your LMS

Setting up your regular announcements before the semester starts is a real time-saver.
These could be messages of encouragement, guidance on what to study in which week, and reminders that assignments are due soon.
Make sure the pre-set dates correspond with the appropriate week of the semester, and you have an automated way of helping students stay on track.

9.  Send a welcome email

A welcome email is a great way to begin the semester.
It means that students start out with a message from you and advice on how to get started.
This helps to establish rapport, as well as proving an opportunity to outline the rules and expectations for the course.

10.  Consider student feedback

Did you receive any constructive feedback via email or student surveys last semester?
Were there some suggestions you could action now to improve the next delivery of your course?


online teaching checklist - student feedback


11.  Update your teacher bio and photo

An up-to-date teacher bio lets you showcase your latest achievements and activities.
It helps to establish credibility from the start of the course, and will foster a more respectful response from your students.

While you’re updating this element, do you need to replace your photo with a more recent one?
A friendly smile helps to show your students that you’re not a faceless authority figure, but an accessible guide who’s there to help.

12.  Check the class lists

It’s helpful for your planning process to take a look at student numbers, so you can look ahead and plan for more or less grading time than you expected.
If there’s information available on particular student learning needs or preferences, you can also be ready for that.

13.  Update your software

This is something that’s easy to neglect when you’re mid-semester.
But this is the perfect moment to update any software that’s past its use-by date.
Make sure you have the latest version of Zoom or other teaching tools you might use installed too.

14.  Check your stationery supplies

Unless 100% of your processes happen online, chances are you’ll need some new stationery.
Take a look now, and order what you need.

(And yes, this is the time to indulge in a cat binder, bright blue notebook or a beautiful new pen.)

15.  Plan the weekend before semester starts

The last weekend before semester is a great time to do something relaxing.
Monday will come soon enough – so take some precious time for yourself, and you’ll be more likely to show up for work feeling positive and energetic.

Make plans with family, go to the park, take a bike ride, have dinner with friends, or curl up with a book.
Do something that makes you happy while you have a spare moment.


online teaching checklist – make weekend plans


16.  Clean your office

You don’t have to spend days scrubbing and polishing.
But it’s helpful to clear the clutter on your desk and make space for a new semester.
Throw away irrelevant paperwork from last semester, wipe down surfaces, clean your keyboard and monitor, swap out last year’s pictures for some new ones, and set out some fresh flowers on your desk.

Make the space really inviting, and you’ll be happy to sit down to work.

17.  Book a holiday now

You know how quickly the work will expand to fill the day – and the week.
It’s easy to forget to plan for some down-time.
So book a weekend away now.

Schedule it for halfway through the semester, when you know your energy and enthusiasm will be running low.

A holiday on your calendar also gives you something to look forward to: a treat you know is waiting just around the corner.

18.  Reconnect with allies

This is a good time to reach out to your friendly colleagues inside and outside of your organisation.

Re-establish your bonds of mutual support.
You’ll likely be needing each other during the semester.

19.  Plan regular self-care activities

This is something we all mean to do, but then the semester begins, and we immediately forget about it.

So decide now on some regular self-care activities (and write them on the calendar, too).
Schedule time for activities like going for a walk every day, or finishing the day with a session in the gym.

20.  Stock up on healthy snacks and drinks

It’s too easy to reach for a sugary pick-me-up or yet another cup of coffee when you’re really busy.

So before the semester starts, stock up on better options.
Have a supply of healthy snacks (such as nuts, fruit, yoghurt), and quality tea or coffee (herbal tea works well to help de-stress you during the day).
Put a jug of filtered water on your desk so that you can top your glass all day and stay hydrated (it’s good for your brain, too).

This is a great time to start taking a multivitamin – if you’re physically healthy, you’ll have more energy and get more done.


online teaching checklist – eat healthy


A new online teaching semester always brings fresh challenges

But if you’re organised, well-prepared and have key self-care strategies in place, it’s a lot easier to achieve another semester of online teaching success.
This online teacher checklist will help you to do it.

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