Leadership Common Experience: Week 3

The Importance of Faculty Rapport

Check out the below entry from one of our NOVA Online instructors on his thoughts about the importance of building rapport with faculty.

dog_pun_2Just before I started teaching my first online course I was worried about how well I’d be able to reach my students, both as a teacher and as a human being. Would Pun Dog be able to get the kind of help he needed in as clear a way as would happen were his instructor guiding him through his struggles with math in-person? And, more, could the teacher put him at ease by giving him a friendly tone through potentially cold screens full of text, unaccompanied by a friendly smile? Taken together, I worried that I couldn’t develop the sort of rapport I’d enjoyed with students I taught in the classroom.

As an online student you may have the same concerns, so I’m thrilled to say that all of my fears turned out to be unfounded. In fact, after that first course I went to a baseball game with one former student and met another for coffee when I was visiting NYC. Students shared photos of their children, we wrote back and forth about shared interests, etc.

All of this made for a fun class, but I’m certain it also lead to greater student success; when everyone has a sense of connection, even in a virtual classroom, there tends to be more of a sense of support, of presence, of caring, and so on, all of which serve to put everyone at ease and trust that their instructor is here to make you succeed. So having a strong student/teacher rapport is possible in an online environment, and also very beneficial.

Now, a lot of this is on the instructor, but I have found that my students, too, help create a harmonious relationship between them and myself. If you are proactive in creating a bond with your instructor, you just may find a better experience in your classes. Here are some ways you might try:

  • If you are asked to respond to your peers in discussion forums, go beyond the minimum reply and really push yourself to be expressive and helpful… this always opens my eyes and warms me towards the student. Similarly consider responding to those who comment on your work, including your instructor. Having a true back-and-forth doesn’t just have to happen in person.
  • Ask questions, be it in the question forum or via email. We want to know when you need help and, not being able to read body language/facial expressions, being able to do so can be difficult online. And asking us also makes us feel connected to you.
  • Use your sense of humor (when appropriate, of course), share some of your outside interests, etc.; it is possible to have fun and express ourselves online, and it’s a great way to get your peers and instructor to feel they have a genuine connection with you.
  • If this course is in an area that you are considering pursuing as a career, ask your instructor for her/his insider knowledge, tips, resources, and so on. Teachers are nothing if not passionate about their subjects and desirous of helping students develop into the professionals they want to become.

So there you have it… rapport with your online instructor is a vital component of a good experience, and you have the power to help bring it about. Trust me, it makes these classes so much more rewarding.

-Will Hatheway

NOVA Online Adjunct Instructor of English


What questions do you have about creating relationships with your NOVA Online instructors?

This week at NOVA Online!

Throughout week 3 of the NOVA Online Leadership Common Experience we will be discussing the importance of faculty rapport. We have a guest blogger,  instructor Will Hatheway, who will talk about making connections with your online faculty member.

Have you created a Google+ account with your VCCS Student Email address? Learn how to create the account, and join or leadership google community.

Plan ahead for the next Leadership Webinar Series – Looking for motivation to develop your personal leadership skills? Participate in a leadership webinar in conjunction with NOVA Online’s Leadership Common Experience! Next week, Thursday, September 18 from 7:00-8:00, join us for our keynote speaker for the webinar series.  Joe Paul will speak about making the most of your time as an online student. Find out more information and register here.

Leadership Common Experience: Week 2

Understanding Self in the College Environment









Within week two of our Leadership Common Experience, we want to build on last week’s theme of success in an online education environment. We discussed important things to keep in mind when you are in the classroom and also how to stay engaged with other students and the college outside of the classroom.

An important aspect to also explore that can be an integral part of your college success is understanding yourself, your strengths, weakness, likes, dislikes, habits, how these qualities can effect your success perusing your education. What are ways you can be proactive and prevent these potential  stressors and obstacles from effecting your overall educational goals?

A great way to begin doing this is self-reflection.  Think about a typical day, the responsibilities you have and how much time  and energy is spent on each. How does your online education fit into this?  Will it drastically change your day to day routine? Are there other areas in which you spend your time that you can improve?

Here is a great article about Toxic Habits that Drain your Energy. Time and Energy work hand-in hand within your overall quality of life and this article gives some great everyday examples on how we can often lose this time and energy around things we can’t control.

How do you see your online education fitting into your personal day-today routine?

What are some other ways that we might mismanage our time and energy?

NOVA Online’s Online Leadership Webinar Series!

Looking for motivation as an online student and developing your personal leadership skills?

Our first webinar is this Thursday, September 4th from 6-7pm!

This webinar will be presented by NOVA/NOVA Online alumni Joshua Anton.

Register for the webinar here!

Check out Joshua’s Bio below!

Like many student leaders, Joshujoah antona Anton faced his own set of adversities. On February 10th, 2009, the day after his 18th birthday, Mr. Anton was asked to leave home while still a senior in high school. This event would change his life forever. Working 3 jobs and attending school full-time, he completed high school on schedule and later in that same year began his new life as a student at Northern Virginia Community College.

As a student leader at NOVA,  Mr. Anton helped to develop the Loudoun campus Student Government Association as its first President, served as a Student Ambassador, and Vice President of Marketing for Phi Theta Kappa. Mr. Anton would also work with future Attorney General, Mark Herring to develop a bus route in the Loudoun County Community that would provide enhanced public transportation to NVCC Students. As a student leader and alumnus, Mr. Anton worked with his fellow student leaders to leave behind many sustainable events that would continue to impact students, NOVA Cram Week (Free Tutors and Pizza before Finals) NOVA’s Got Talent (America’s Got Talent for NOVA) and the Loudoun Leaders League (student leadership conference promoting sustainable leadership)

In June 2012, Mr. Anton transferred to the University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce. Building on the foundation he developed at community college, Mr. Anton would venture into leadership once again, but this time through a sustainable product development competition co-sponsored by Unilever Corporation and the student organization Enactus. Mr. Anton and his team developed plans for an innovative disposable men’s razor called the “Ax Defiant” that if implemented will reduce a percentage of the 2.5 billion razors added to landfills annually.

The team won the U.S. Round of the competition and moved forward to become the representative of the United States in a global competition in Singapore. In this competition, 10 teams around the world proposed marketing strategies to Unilever Executives for their Lifebuoy brand. The theme of this competition was centered on designing innovative solutions to get children to wash their hands more often throughout the day resulting in saving 2 million children’s lives annually.

Mr. Anton’s professional endeavors have included numerous entrepreneurial related projects, including a social media consulting firm, yOptimize, a student textbook company called A.I. Textbooks; authoring a book named “Investing: Blunt and to the Point” that provides students with guidance on investing; and co-developing a mobile application for Apple iPhone and Android that prevents students from “so-called” drunk dialing. That application known as “Drunk Mode” is currently available in seven languages.

Mr. Anton has given numerous formal public speeches at local high schools, elementary schools, and community colleges regarding topics on his life story, leadership, entrepreneurship, and his community college experience.

 We look forward to “seeing” you there!

This week at NOVA Online!

Happy Labor Day! NOVA offices are closed Monday, September 1.

Wednesday, September 3rd is the 2nd 8-week and 2nd 12-week start date for a number of NOVA Online classes. Is your class starting? Join us for a NOVA Online Orientation webinar to help you get started. The NOVA Online Orientation is a general overview for students enrolled in courses offered through the Extended Learning Institute. The NOVA Online Orientation is highly recommended for students who are new to online learning. Advanced Registration is required here.

NOVA Online Fantasy Football League: Join NOVA Online’s online Fantasy Football League! Compete with other students and win prizes. Sign up here. The draft is tonight, September 1, limited spots left.

NOVA Online Leadership Common Experience- Jumpstart your semester by participating in NOVA Online’s Leadership Common Experience. Throughout week two of the Leadership Common Experience we will discuss understanding yourself in the college environment and goal setting for the semester. Learn more about the program and how to participate here.

Leadership Webinar Series– 6:00-7:00pm Looking for motivation to develop your personal leadership skills? Participate in a leadership webinar in conjunction with NOVA Online’s Leadership Common Experience! This week’s webinar will be presented by NOVA/NOVA Online alumni Joshua Anton.  Find out more information and Register here.