How to Teach Online

The Ultimate Guide to Online Teaching

How to Teach Online

The TakeLessons team is here to help teachers transition to online lessons. Our signature online learning platform was created to ensure that teachers and students can continue to thrive at home. In this article, you’ll learn how to activate your profile for online teaching, what technology you need to teach online, best practices for online lessons, and resources you have for support during this difficult time.

How Are Online Lessons Different?

Teachers around the world are able to share their specialties with students in an online classroom through two-way video that streams live. This is not your average YouTube tutorial; it’s live, one-on-one instruction in real time. Teachers and students receive a custom link that is the access point to their shared online classroom. When logged in, the teacher can guide the student through a lesson plan in their subject of choice. Through video, students can ask questions and teachers can provide feedback.

Online lessons are different from in-person lessons in three main ways.

  • Teachers and students rely on technology for connection.
  • Teachers and students may have external audio and visual distractions, making it more challenging for focus and concentration during the lesson.
  • Teachers and students gain scheduling flexibility, without physical travel needs.

Best Practices for Teaching Online Lessons & Preparing Online Lesson Plans

If you are new to teaching online, you may be wondering how your lesson preparation and teaching style should adjust and evolve. We collected best practices to help you succeed. If you’re an experienced online teacher, share your tips in the comments below!


  • Collaborative Lesson Content: When you’re preparing an online lesson plan, aim for subject content that requires active participation from students. Teachers and students will benefit from collaboration during online lessons. Rather than lecture at students, get creative and engage your students in the lesson.
  • Step-by-Step Instruction: Outlines and lesson plans are every teacher’s secret weapons for success. During your preparation, write down step-by-step instructions for students. Practice your lesson; speak clearly and slowly, and articulate thoughtfully.
  • Always Test Your Tech First: Before online lessons are scheduled to begin, make sure you test out your internet connection, TakeLessons Classroom link, camera, and speaker. Don’t wait until the last minute to address technical problems.


  • Get to Know Your Student: Just because you’re not in the same physical room together doesn’t mean you can’t get to know your student. Consider starting each online lesson with a new ice-breaker question. Topics could include favorite travel experience, favorite live concert, or subject-specific goals. The personalization will lighten the digital mood, and it will help with online student retention.
  • Encourage Questions: Don’t assume that your student understands the subject. Online lessons are live in action! And that means that teachers should encourage questions throughout the lesson. Student questions are essential for learning.
  • Give Feedback in Real Time: Whether you’re teaching language, music, or academic lessons, there is always an opportunity to provide feedback on student performance. Pay close attention to your student’s progress, and provide positive or constructive feedback during the lesson. Your student will appreciate the one-on-one attention.


  • Ask for Feedback: How did the online lesson go? Communicate with your students to learn what went well and what you can improve on for the next session. Student interests and goals can change, and with proper communication, you can stay on track.
  • Create Virtual Office Hours: When the lesson ends, learning doesn’t have to stop. To add value for your students, consider allowing them to send you questions during off-lesson hours. You could respond in real time, or you could prepare your answers for the next online lesson. The extra effort will help with online student retention.

How to Get Started Teaching Online

The good news is, you are just a few steps away from activating your profile for online teaching. We have step-by-step instructions for how to opt into online teaching in your TakeLessons account. Teachers with active TakeLessons accounts should follow these seven steps. When these updates are complete, you are on your way to teaching online.

  1. Log in to your TakeLessons account.
  2. Open your Profile page.
  3. Open the Locations tab.
  4. Under Teach Online, click Set Up Online.
  5. Click Use TakeLessons Classroom with New Students.
  6. To accept online students in your subjects, click Add All My Subjects to This Location.
  7. Click Save.

Next up, it’s time to adjust your availability for online teaching hours. Is your online teaching availability different from your in-person schedule? Let your online students know. Here are the step-by-step instructions for updating your online teaching availability.

  1. While logged in to your TakeLessons account, open your Availability page.
  2. Select your Online location.
  3. Click and drag your mouse in the schedule area to set availability. Times you’re available to teach should be colored in; times you aren’t available should be blank.
  4. When you’re finished setting up your online availability, click Confirm Availability.

For screenshot examples and more information, read our support article.

Technology & Tools for Online Teaching Success

With the right technology and tools in place, online teaching is a convenient, enjoyable, and profitable way to connect with students and advance your skills from the comfort of your home studio. All online teacher partners have access to TakeLessons Classroom, our customized video chat software that enables live, interactive lessons with online students. In order to use the software, teachers are required to have a computer, internet access, webcam, and microphone. Optional add-ons to support teacher performance include headphones and multiple cameras. Read on for more details.

  • A fast and reliable computer: This can be a desktop, laptop, or tablet. A faster system means a more reliable connection for lessons.
  • High-speed internet: At least 400 kbps (standard Cable or DSL connection should work just fine – no dial up). If you want the best video chat experience, plug directly into the wall. Test your connection here. (Note: 1 Mbps = 1000Kbps)
  • Video chat software: Partners can teach online students through TakeLessons Classroom. It’s free, easy to use, and doesn’t require you to download software.
  • Webcam: Preferably HD – your students will notice a difference. If your computer or tablet was purchased within the last 5 years, your camera is good enough.
  • Microphone: Most laptops and tablets have great mics built in. If you are teaching a subject like singing, you may want to invest in a USB external microphone.
  • Headphones: Many teachers use the speakers in their computer. Headphones can enhance the experience and eliminate distracting background noise. 

Helpful Resources for Online Teacher Partners

We are all in this together! We have a Facebook group for TakeLessons teachers, and you’re officially invited to join. Connect with your fellow teachers and share stories and advice with each other during the transition. Join the Facebook group!

Do you want extra help to promote your online classes on social media? Take a photo of your online teaching setup, describe your lessons, and share it on Instagram. Tag @takelessons or #takelessons so we can re-share your photo with our followers.

Do you have more questions? We offer more answers in Teacher Support.


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