A Day in the Life of an Online Teacher
When people ask me what I do, and I tell them I teach high school online, I often get some quizzical looks. I want to remind them that it is 2016 so this is actually much more common than they may realize but, instead, I just answer their questions. They usually want to know the answers to these three questions:
1. How does that work?
2. Can the students see you?
3. What kinds of kids is this for?
I also notice that, sometimes, people may misunderstand what it means to work from home. Some are under the false assumption that it means I don’t have to actually work. “Wow, you’ve got it made,” they might say or, “Your house must be so clean.”
I just smile but, if they really knew how much work it takes, they’d realize that it really doesn’t make any difference that I am working from my home. So, for all those who ever wondered what it is like to teach online, here’s a brief glimpse of what happens in my typical day. You may be surprised at how much interaction and work there actually is!
Every morning, I conference with my teaching partner about lesson plans. That takes me to right about live class time. I hold live class daily, and I choose to use the web cam, so yes, my students can see me. After class ends, I stay in the live room and answer any questions students may have. From there, I return any emails or calls that I may have (and there are usually several). I may then spend time helping students one-to-one via the phone or in a live classroom. I have students who I will call each day to help or to discuss their grades. I will also spend some time grading work that has been submitted. I will also review what I am doing in class tomorrow so I am ready for the next day’s lesson.
Oh, and I can’t forget about meetings (I would like to, but I can’t). I will have team meetings, department meetings, and various other meetings. Since students are able to email, call, or submit work 24/7 there is never a time where there is nothing to do. I will also do a check-in in the evening and return messages if a student has a question.
Teaching online comes with a unique set of challenges as well. To me the biggest challenge is working with a student who does not want to work or come to class or return my emails and calls. I can try and try, but I can’t force a student to do their part. This is frustrating to me because I know that if they would give a little effort, I could help them. I am glad to say that this only happens with a small minority of my students.
So, to answer the remaining questions I typically receive: online learning is for all kinds of students, and I have some great ones. Students choose online learning for a variety of reasons. The bottom line is that traditional brick-and-mortar schools, while great for many students, is just not the right fit for all students. My students are bright and eager to learn. I love the fact that, as a teacher, I can get to know my students and build relationships with them even in the online environment. Online teaching is a lot of work and has its challenges for sure, but it is also very rewarding and fun and so I agree with those who think I “have it made” and it is worth having a messy house!
Miriam Conner teaches English at Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA). She earned a bachelor’s degree from Judson University and a master’s degree in education from Ashland University. Miriam has been a teacher for 20 years with the last eleven being online, in addition to serving as an adjunct professor and student teacher supervisor. She is the proud mother of three children, ages 12, 9, and 5. She also has two dogs, a Goldendoodle and an English Mastiff. She loves attending her kids’ games and helping at their schools and enjoys blogging and stair-climbing competitions and tennis.