A Day in the Life of a PLI Teacher

Chelsea Penney
August 5, 2021

What does a virtual teaching job really look like?

Proximity Learning teachers have a unique job. They teach regular STEAM and world language classes in traditional k12 schools. The difference is they teach those classes remotely with flexible schedules that fit naturally into their lives. They can teach as many classes as they like, but they must be certified in the given subject. 

Our teachers get the best of both worlds: writing lesson plans and interacting with students while working from home and making their own schedules. They are experts in their field and creatively utilize technology to execute fun, engaging lessons. Additionally, they interact with students face-to-face via Zoom cameras to promote participation in hybrid learning. Finally, via remote instruction, teachers can teach in different states across the country from the comfort of their own desks.


Let’s meet PLI Teacher, Mrs. Dilbert

“Hello, I'm Miranda Dilbert.  I began my career in education in 2010 when  I was a communication secretary for a private preschool.  A few years later, I became an aide with my local district, gaining classroom experience from Pre-K to 5th grade. I provided small group instruction in the classroom. Then, I became a registrar for the same school.  It was a job that I excelled at because I love getting to know people, I'm very organized, and it was a very detail oriented job.  No joke, I helped the district write the book on how to be a registrar.  I was proud of how 'squeaky clean' my records were.  I am a visual learner, so when another registrar called to ask for help, I could talk them through the program we used without even looking at my computer.  I had memorized the program’s screens and function; it became second nature to me.  

“As an elementary student, I had such a positive experience in school and  it became my dream to be a teacher.  When I was a registrar, I attended Western Governors University (WGU)- Texas Teacher College to earn a bachelor's degree.  It is a university that is 100% virtual.  I became licensed to teach in 2017 and was quickly hired as a teacher for the school I had been working at over the past few years.  I am certified to teach core subjects EC-6th grade. Hard work, dedication, and superb time management skills led me to successfully earn a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction with WGU while working full time as a teacher.”

What is your experience working with PLI?

“I began working for Proximity Learning in March 2020, right before the panic of the pandemic set in...before schools were being shut down.  Since I attended a university online, I was not afraid to jump right in and teach remotely.  With PLI, I began teaching Earth Science and Life Science for middle schoolers in Georgia.”

“This past school year, I taught Math for grades K-5th grade to students in West Virginia.  I absolutely LOVED that I had the opportunity to put my master's degree to work to create the pacing and vertically aligned curriculum for my West Virginian online public school students.  I had small classroom sizes for each grade (every teacher's dream) so differentiation was easy to achieve.”  

“My first graders were so advanced it was incredible to see how quickly they picked up multiples of 2, 3, 5, and 10 because we routinely practiced skip counting.  Usually multiplication isn't introduced until 3rd grade, however, these students mastered the concept of multiplying with those numbers with ease.  They were equally proud of themselves as I was with them.”

What are you most proud of?

“My students' ability to verbalize their thinking when demonstrating how to solve math problems is incredible, it made my teacher heart so full.  I beamed with pride anytime we would have visitors in our classroom to witness how cool these kids are. It is always such a huge compliment when students would tell me they loved math because I made it easy for them to understand.”  

“It is essential for me to create a welcoming environment where students aren't afraid to ask questions. Creating bell ringers that opened up conversations to get to know my students helped tremendously to let my students know they are sincerely cared for and to feel comfortable talking in class.  

“Another way to get students comfortable talking in class was encouraging students to answer their classmates' questions.  I wish everyone was able to see how the students had this intrinsic glow about them when they were able to help a classmate.  What blew me away even more is how delicate they are with word choice!  Example: ‘I can see why you would get that answer.  There is something you missed…’  or ‘Good try, you are so close!  Let me show you how to do this problem and you can do the next one.’ When the student asking the question would demonstrate how to solve a problem, their classmates would provide encouragement without being prompted!”  

“I was also ecstatic to be able to put together a curriculum guide for English Language Arts and Math for grades 3 - 8 for teachers to use for tutoring students in Illinois.  The district picked the standards.  I put the standards in a logical order to teach, created essential questions, found items within USA Test Prep and Nearpod for teachers to use as bell ringers, whole group teaching, and practice.  I was even one of the ELA tutors, and I had a wonderful group of 3rd graders.”

Tell us about your daily schedule...

“My schedule as a teacher:

6am- wake up, get ready for the day, make breakfast for the family

8am- Kinder class

9am- 1st grade class

10am to 12pm- make lunch for me and my kids, lesson plan for the following week, lesson prep

12pm- 2nd/3rd/4th grade class

1pm- 5th grade class 

2pm- office hours for students needing additional help

3pm to 5pm- relax, make dinner for my family, continue lesson planning and prepping, household tasks, run errands

6pm to 7pm- virtually tutor an amazing little kid who is nonverbal, autistic (I used to tutor him in person but he does excellent via Zoom since COVID)

7pm to bedtime- spend time with family, help kids with homework, make sure all I need for the next day or following week is 100% ready to go”

 

What is different about teaching for PLI?

“Teaching for PLI is very different from teaching in a brick and mortar public school. It has a lot of perks.  I am able to work from home, therefore, no travel time and I am here with my kids.  PLI has amazing staff that are extremely kind, helpful, and treat teachers as professionals.”  

“I have the freedom to choose from a list of classes that need to be filled based on my availability and certification.  Typically in schools, you are told what grade to teach and can be moved to another grade level at a moment’s notice.  I don't have to worry about last-minute staff meetings because PLI notifies staff in advance for upcoming meetings and professional development (PD).  If a PD begins when I'm still teaching, I am able to view the recording of the PD and gain the same information and not feel as if I've missed something.”  

“Teachers are recognized in PLI weekly newsletters, blogs, social media, and on the company's website which is great because our stakeholders are able to be included on what sets us apart from the rest.”

“I am really looking forward to continued growth with PLI.  It's empowering to know my knowledge and experience are acknowledged and valued.  I knew I picked a creative and innovative place to work when I did my research on the company before applying to the virtual teaching job with PLI.”

 

Congratulations to Miranda who was recently promoted to Solution Specialist!

“As a teacher, during a stressful time all over the world, I looked forward to seeing my students smiling faces each day. Putting together tutoring curriculum gave teachers one less thing to tack on their ‘to do’ list. As a solution specialist, I will be able to expand my contributions to even more students, teachers, and clients. People may ask why I’m leaving the classroom that I enjoy so much. I don’t feel like I’m leaving the classroom, I’m gaining an auditorium. Just like teaching, a lot of the work is done behind the scenes.”

Chelsea Penney earned her Bachelors Degree in Writing from University of Colorado Denver. She is currently in graduate school through Texas A&M University studying Marketing. She loves living in Austin, TX and working on the frontline of the many marketing initiatives for Proximity Learning.

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