We all have a need and tolerance for a certain amount of drama when things happen (or might happen) to us. When we get excited or tense we shift our perception according to the emergency or situation. We fool ourselves by creating an illusion that all is not good. Seth Godin, in the blog post the conservation of drama, adds,
In fact, though, it’s all imagined. Drama isn’t the work, it’s our take on the work. Drama doesn’t have to exist, certainly not in the way we’re living it, not right now. A few days or weeks or years from now, this work will be so commonplace to you, you won’t blink.
When we teach online it is often difficult to separate the learning from the drama in an online environment. Without nonverbal communication it’s more work to recognize each learner’s personal and emotional connections to the subject, the instructor, and their peers. In What the Best Online Teachers Should Do, Brinthaupt, Fisher, Gardner, and J. B. Woodard write the essential factor in a successful online learning experience is a community created by self-disciplined participants.
In a review of best practices for online teaching, Grandzol and Grandzol (2006) argued that the most essential factor to a successful online education experience is creating a community of learners where the quantity and quality of interactions with peers and faculty foster student engagement. This kind of engagement is particularly important given the need for more self-discipline from students in online compared to traditional classes (Clark-Ibenez & Scott, 2008).
When we teach online we can consciously choose to build rapport with our students by eliminating the drama while creating a community of learners. How do we begin to minimize drama?
- Recognize when you might be creating drama.
- Change your perspective.
- Don’t feed into other people’s drama.
- Reconsider unhealthy relationships.
- Be clear and straight with other people.
- Be slow to label something as “drama.”
Lori Deschene concludes,