1. Get to know them in advance

When students sign up for a workshop, they're invited to answer a couple questions about their creative/artistic practice. Sur Place shares their responses with their teachers. Read it - this is valuable information that will give you a sense of what your students already know and where they're starting from. 

2. Invite them to help set the course

Sending an email to students before the workshop starts is a great way to engage them right off the bat. You can send a couple of specific questions  to help cater your material to their interests, and serve as conversation points during the sessions. specific content you'll teach and as conversation points during the session. For example...

"What's the most challenging technique in watercolour?" or

"Is it harder to write beginnings or endings?"

3. Validate them

In a live setting, a student benefits from non-verbal cues to keep them engaged; the smile and nod of the teacher, the thoughtful glances of other students. In a live online class, these cues don't come across as easily. Instead, built moments of verbal validation with questions and check-ins.  For example, asking...

“Did that make sense?” or

"We're going to read an short clip from this author... does anyone know their work?"

4. Learn their names

It goes without saying that calling someone by name is a better way to engage them than 'you in the red shirt.' Make a concerted effort to learn everyone's name quickly so you can facilitate discussions and group sharing. And check in on quieter ones by inviting them specifically to weigh in.

5.Have them share their experience/reflections

Offer an activity, do the activity and then have them share their experience of the activity. These moments are helpful for them, to integrate what they’re learning and any insights they are having, and also for you to be able to ‘read the room’ and see what’s getting through and how engaged they are with the material.  You can do this regularly or just once at the end of a session.