So you’ve been thinking about teaching online. You have likely taken an online course yourself, so you believe you have a pretty good idea about what the job entails. Hmmm…. You may need to think again. Your conventional notions may deceive you.
1-Teaching online is a career supplement (not a career).
The scene is shifting. As we’ve shared before, 53% of education professionals believe real-time video collaboration and mobile devices will be the primary way students engage with content by 2025. As more and more content moves online, so does the demand for quality educational professionals to oversee, manage, and deliver that content.
With a global company, teaching online can be teaching without borders. A teacher in one location may be able to teach learners in different time zones throughout their day, making a good living from their home office if they choose to do so. However, teaching online also offers the flexibility to organize one’s work schedule around other personal or professional commitments as life demands.
2-Teaching online is a lonely job without colleagues.
It’s true that many opportunities for online learning operate like a marketplace. This is business. You are the service provider. They do the marketing for you. They drag you in and lure you with the promise of more customers. You compete with other providers, more often than not on price, which far too often ends up being dreadfully low. Once you are in, you are on your own. The platform’s involvement is to get a commission on your lessons. You have no colleagues. You have no support. You are entirely free if this is what you are seeking – free and alone.
With a team of like-minded professionals, it doesn’t have to be so isolating. What if online schools operated like, well, schools? Teachers should be able team up to share best practices, discuss a student’s progress or learning needs, come together regularly to brainstorm ideas and resources, or just chat. At VivaLing, teachers are our greatest asset. As such, we offer them a collaborative environment where they can thrive through helping each other reach a common purpose – to impact the lives and learning of young children.
3- Teaching online is impersonal and monotonous.
As one VivaLing Coach puts it, “Distance increases proximity.” Are you baffled by the paradox? While teaching online, you are meeting your students in their world (both physically and generationally). They open up through the little window that is their screen, diving into the magical internet tunnel, dedicating unparalleled attention to the interaction, and building an incredibly strong bond with their coach. How do we know it? They tell us. Their eyes tell us. Their smiles tell us. The eagerness to join their daily or weekly session tells us.
Seeing each learner in their world also reveals just how different they are: their interests, their personalities, their preferences for learning. By customizing the lesson based on the child’s interests, pace, and level, you increase the learning effectiveness and student engagement. And with online tools for adaptive learning and spaced repetition, a truly personalized learning experience is just a click away. Each learning experience is entirely different and unique, far from impersonal and monotonous.
Of course, this only applies to online schools that recognize the importance of differentiation and building a strong rapport with learners. Unfortunately, most online schools rotate teachers and learners around as if they were interchangeable. Perhaps they even mandate you to teach a rigid curriculum or provide you with a script of exactly what to say. Such an environment can quickly lose any hope for creativity or connection with learners, which are often the very elements which attract us to teaching in the first place.
4- Teaching online doesn’t allow for career advancement.
Connected to the first myth above, as more and more educational content moves online, so does the need for teachers who don’t just know how to utilize technology, but who can enhance it through smart implementation combined with an exploitation of uniquely human qualities. Great teachers are and will be those who have become experts at motivating, personalizing, and interacting with their learners. The best online academies will develop them, recognize them, and promote them to reward their professional growth.
But it does not stop there. As the integration of automation into the learning process is being perfected, there is a need for teachers to utilize their many talents in new and creative ways. Traditional materials and methods must be adapted and optimized for the online environment, new standards for teaching and learning must be set, and new innovations must constantly evolve to meet the needs of the next generation’s workforce.
As experts in content, cognition, and delivery, teachers are the best-suited to lead these efforts when they are appointed as full-fledged members of their academies’ Learning teams. At VivaLing, for instance, all of our Master Coaches, teacher supervisors, teacher trainers, teacher recruiters, Language Consultants, and many more were initially hired by the academy as Coaches – myself included.
5-Teaching online is just like teaching offline.
It takes work…a lot of work, especially in the beginning, to adapt your years of classroom-tested activities, back-pocket games, and wealth of resources to a completely new environment. You aren’t just moving to a new classroom. You are moving to a new universe with different rules, new tools, entirely different class dynamics, and a new generation of learners who are likely more adept at online learning than you are.
It doesn’t come naturally, and you must be trained in many new skills and tools. However, online teacher training courses like VivaLing’s VOLT-YL course can prepare you for the exciting adventure into online teaching through the perfect blend of knowledge, training, collaboration, rehearsal, and teaching practice.
How many of the myths above did you think were true? The correct answer is that none of them have to be. Keep in mind, however, that not all online schools were created equal. Choose wisely and you can build yourself a successful career path.