3 Tips for a Great Start to an Online Writing Class


Back to School ClassroomAnother school year has begun for us here at WriteAtHome. Our middle school courses began yesterday and our high school courses begin today. Our courses are all asynchronous — which means they don’t require students to be online at any special time — so there’s nothing  magic about today. We just make the first lesson and writing assignment available today. The first paper is due next week. But now’s a great time to give some tips on how to get the most out of a WriteAtHome class:

1. Don’t stress out! We only hire super-nice writing coaches. Their job is to help you write better. That’s it. To do this requires some evaluation of your writing, but that doesn’t mean their job is to judge or critique your work. They will look carefully at everything you submit, not to criticize you, but to coach you. And when they point out things that can be improved or mistakes you’ve made, it’s only to help you fix them and to learn ways to avoid such errors in the future. Remember, you and your coach are on the same team. I promise: you’ll get along fine.

2. Be patient. Assignments are given this week and they are due next week. But it’s not a lengthy assignment. You could probably get it done in about an hour or two. Early in the year, that happens a lot. Students are eager and energetic and submit the paper the same day they get it. That’s great! We love the enthusiasm. But remember, the paper isn’t due until next week, and it’s not due back from your writing coach until the week after that. That means you may wait almost two weeks to get the first paper back if you turn it in right away. Once the class gets further under way, the pace will seem fine, but at first, it can seem like an eternity before you get feedback on your writing. Patience, my eager friend!

3. Get acquainted. The first paper or two that you submit will be a single-draft assignment. That means you’ll submit it just once and get comments on it from your writing coach. You won’t have the chance to revise it like you will with almost all of the other papers you’ll do this year. The reason for this is that we consider these first papers diagnostic. They are primarily used by your writing coach to get familiar with you and your writing ability. Your coach will use these to get some idea of how to best help you as the course continues. She will also use them to introduce herself to you through the comments. Think of the first couple of weeks as “getting to know you” time.

If you’ve been through this before and have other suggestions for newbies, please leave them in comments. And if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to use the comments for those also. Have a great year!


About the Author

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

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