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8 Characteristics of a Great Virtual School Learning Coach

As the virtual world becomes more and more integral to our society, millions of K-12 students are making the switch to online education.


Involvement from guardians and trusted mentors is a cornerstone of success in online schooling. Being an involved Learning Coach is the best way to help your student reach their academic goals and build their opportunities. But taking on this new role comes with a learning curve, and it’s important that you have the tools you need to be the best Learning Coach you can be.


At Summit Learning Charter, we’re committed to working with Learning Coaches to ensure each and every student gets the support they need. Keep reading to learn more about this important role and the characteristics that will help you and your student make the transition to online school. 

What is the Role of a Learning Coach?

caucasian learning coach working with virtual student


K-12 online schools employ certified teachers who provide instruction and evaluate student performance, just like in a traditional learning environment. But virtual schooling also allows guardians and caretakers to take a more active role by supporting and guiding them in their education as Learning Coaches.


While online teachers are responsible for presenting course material, your role as a Learning Coach is to foster a healthy, encouraging home-education environment. While being the best possible Learning Coach for your student involves some planning and commitments of time and effort, it’s incredibly rewarding! You’ll have the chance to help your student gain lifelong knowledge and skills. 


Here are some of the main responsibilities of a Learning Coach:

  • Providing a quiet, structured learning space
  • Helping to create dedicated time for studying
  • Encouraging and participating in communications with teachers
  • Answering minor questions, but never completing work for a student
  • Providing active reassurance and support

1. Approachable and Personable

Communicating clearly and in a positive way with your student and their teachers is an essential part of being a great Learning Coach. The goal is to make sure your student feels comfortable approaching you with questions and concerns, so you can offer support and connect them with the resources they need to thrive in a virtual schooling environment.

Related: 6 Ways Learning Coaches Can Support Teachers Online

2. Patient

Learning new concepts can be challenging and stressful at times. Even the most intelligent and dedicated students are bound to run into subjects and assignments they find difficult to grasp. That’s why one of the most important characteristics of a great virtual school Learning Coach is patience. As your student struggles with a topic, they’ll stay motivated and positive when you sit with them as they work and encourage them to keep trying.

3. Encouraging of Independent Learning

africa american student wearing a tie dye shirt doing schoolwork


One of the many benefits of virtual learning compared to traditional models of education is that it encourages students to develop independent learning skills. Since students have more flexibility over their schedule and how they study, they learn the importance of staying organized, prioritizing school work, and keeping track of deadlines. You can help them develop these skills by regularly checking in on their progress while still letting them take the lead! 

Related: Pros and Cons of Online vs Traditional High Schools

4. Flexible

Education isn’t always straightforward and while sticking to your schedule is important, there will be moments where things don’t go according to plan. Maybe your household is dealing with a nasty flu, or perhaps your student is struggling with a specific topic and needs some extra study time. As a Learning Coach, flexibility is essential. It’s always a good idea to expect the unexpected and have the ability to go with the flow.

5. Empathetic and Understanding

Many of the essential characteristics of a great virtual school Learning Coach involve keeping your student organized and on track. But sometimes, young learners need your support more than they need your guidance. When you see them struggling with a concept, experiencing anxiety about a class or assignment, or feeling discouraged about their abilities, you can help them by offering understanding and empathy.

6. Dedicated To Building Relationships

The online learning process is most effective when students, teachers, administrators, classmates, and Learning Coaches are all working toward the same goals. Encouraging your student to build meaningful connections with their instructors, counselors, and other students in their classes will not only support their education, but also their social development. You can help them foster important connections that will help them now and as they progress in their schooling, career, and life.

7. Supportive and Involved

african american learning coach helping students learning virtual school


As previously discussed, online school is excellent at fostering independent learning skills in students. As a Learning Coach, it’s important to know when to step back and let the student take charge. But it’s also important to know when to lean forward, get involved, and use your leadership skills to support their learning. Check in on their progress and offer help and guidance. This is especially important in moments when you see your student struggling and wanting to give up.

8. Organized and Conscientious 

The flexibility of virtual learning is one of the main reasons students are making the switch. Having the option to create a schedule that works for you and your student can make all the difference when it comes to their academic success. But just like with any school environment, you can’t just throw caution to the wind and hope for the best. 


One of your primary responsibilities as a Learning Coach is to oversee the learning process and develop a clear and realistic schedule to ensure your student gets their work done on time. Setting goals and building a daily structure are critical to the success of digital learners. That’s why excellent organizational and time-management skills are essential.

How to Set Daily Goals for Success

Structured lessons and assignments are built into SLC’s curriculum through instructor-led coursework. But Learning Coaches should also create smaller, actionable daily goals for their students. This not only helps to ensure all work is completed on time, but also creates a learning environment wherein students can build confidence as they receive positive reinforcement for completing their daily goals.


The daily goals you set for your student should be SMART (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and timely). The student should be able to express what they want to achieve, when they will achieve it, and what actions they will take to complete their goal.


Here are some examples of positive daily goals you can set with your student:

  • Reading a certain number of pages in a course textbook each day.
  • Devoting a certain amount of time to rereading notes taken during classes.
  • Memorizing a certain number of vocabulary words by a specific date.
  • Making a certain number of flashcards by a certain date to use for studying.
  • Asking at least two questions during class.


Curious About What it Takes to Be a Great Learning Coach for Your Student?

learning coach helping student with coursework virtual charter in oregon

At Summit Learning Charter, we’re keenly aware of how important guardians and mentors are to student development and success. We encourage Learning Coaches to take an active role in their student’s education, and we’re committed to providing the essential support and resources students and their families and support systems need to thrive.

If you have questions about being a Learning Coach or how you can best support your student and their teachers, we’re here to talk! Learn more about SLC’s virtual academy and contact us online to get your questions answered!

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Sean Gallagher

Mr. Gallagher has been working at Summit Learning Charter since 2008, the school's founding year, and has been the Principal since 2014. Sean has been an educator for 27 years working in alternative education, teaching English, and school leadership. Sean's passion as a school leader is constructing Summit towards continual growth and student centered solutions.

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