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3 Keys to Establishing Presence in Your Online Classroom

By Laura Smith

Would you leave your face-to-face class alone for a class period with only a few directions written up on the board? Most educators would answer “no” – and just like in the face-to-face classroom, teacher presence is critical in the online classroom. Making your presence known and visible in the online classroom is just as important as showing up in your brick-and-mortar classroom each day.

Key Characteristics of Teacher Presence in the Online Classroom

  1. Regular Participation: Effective online teachers make sure their participation is reliable and predictable. This can mean accessing the course at the same time each day and letting students know about disruptions to your schedule.
  2. Timely Responses: Responding quickly to students ensures their questions will be answered and that they are supported, giving them clarification in time to complete their assignments. Online teachers can leverage features of their course platform to be alerted to new posts, submissions, and messages from students so that they may respond in a timely way.
  3. Consistent Facilitation: Teachers must regularly monitor their online class, including asynchronous discussions. Even short posts that pose a question, redirect a student, or offer an additional perspective build students’ sense of safety and belonging by reminding them that their teacher is “listening” and cares about what is happening in the classroom, even when they are not online simultaneously.

Online teachers usually have a variety of areas within the course to make their presence known. Consider:

  • News or Announcements: These areas are a great way to promote current information, provide support, and share your presence and personality with students.
  • One-on-one Messaging: Sending a direct message to a student can help encourage or redirect them, answer a question, or provide guidance. In doing so, you can build individual relationships.
  • Feedback: Providing specific, personalized, actionable feedback to individual students or the whole class is an effective way to show students that you are engaged with the course.

So, don’t be a stranger – let your students know you’re there!


Laura Smith is a Senior Instructional Coordinator at VHS Learning. Before coming to VHS Learning Laura was an Arts and Humanities teacher and teacher leader.