This month’s Proximity Learning webinar features host Dr. April Willis; Senior Manager of HR, John Rollack; Talent Acquisition Specialist, Samantha White; and two virtual teachers, Diana Brown and Joseph Liang. The panel discusses the benefits of remote teaching jobs and how to get the job for the 2022-23 school year. Read more to get all the answers on what it is like to teach from home with Proximity Learning.
Joseph Liang has taught Physical Science and Mandarin Chinese with Proximity Learning for over 10 years, so he has a wealth of knowledge about teaching virtually. He lives in Chicago but has taught students from California to Connecticut. He transitioned to virtual teaching when he found a lack of science resources in the schools he worked at which pushed him to pursue teaching language online.
Diana Brown has taught Math with Proximity Learning for four years. She lives in Virginia and teaches students in Texas, Tennessee and South Carolina. Ms. Brown transitioned to teaching from home when she realized how time-consuming the extra school duties were. She felt like she missed out on experiencing much of her daughter’s first year. Determined to make a change for her son, she sought out a solution.
What is your advice to educators thinking about teaching virtually?
Diana Brown: I think it’s a great opportunity. There may be various reasons why educators would choose Proximity Learning like health and safety. Teachers have been put in compromising positions and with Proximity, you can be home safe with your family. It’s great for health reasons.
Joesph Liang: I would say switch ASAP because that’s the future of fundamental education.
What are some advantages of teaching virtually with Proximity Learning?
John Rollack: Proximity Learning allows you a lot of flexibility. If you still want to educate kids and be home with your own kids, it’s the best place to work. I’m a former principal, and I’ve been dreaming of this since 2010. This is the way forward in education. You also get to increase your technology. You also get to apply to the National Virtual Teacher Association.
Joseph Liang: There is this vast treasure trove of online resources. You can reach more students across the country. It saves you so much time in terms of commuting, organizing your offices, available apps and data, and professional development to teach us how to use it.
What are the differences between teaching virtually versus brick and mortar roles?
Joseph Liang: You can sleep in! You are much safer. When I was teaching in brick and mortar in Chicago, I got cases of flu, colds, whatever my students had. You also have a lot more energy because you aren’t supervising the lunchroom, for example.
Diana Brown: I like the personability you can have with the students. Some of your students might be shy and don’t want to answer a question in front of the entire class. They can personally message you on Zoom and only I will see the question, so I can address things that are unclear or just chat them back to answer their question. They can get more of a personal education, rather than brick and mortar where they may not get that one-on-one time.
How flexible is scheduling for classes?
Samantha White: Scheduling is really flexible. We require teachers to have four hours of availability each day, Monday through Friday. That’s because most of our classes meet Monday through Friday. But as far as flexibility goes, we have so many classes available. If you want to teach ninth grade English, you could teach ninth grade English all day long.
John Rollack: You really get to build your own schedule. There may be times that we help you with your schedule or merge your day together to make sure you have a full day if that’s what you’re looking for. Or if you only wanted to work four hours a day, you’re able to pick the classes you want to teach and then go spend time with your family. If you want to take your kids to school and pick them up every day, great! You can teach with us from 10-2, pick your kids up and take them to the park. Or if you’re going to grad school to get your PhD and just want a lighter load, you can do that as well. It’s really flexible and you can always add classes. The only thing we ask is that you not drop classes after you pick them up because then we’re doing a disservice to our students.
Does Proximity Learning offer professional development? What types of PD?
John Rollack: We offer a lot of PD. One example is National Virtual Teacher Association which is very similar to National Boards. It will allow you to become a more effective virtual teacher. We also teach you how to build rapport with students and how to manage your classroom. Then, we’re always building curriculum.
What benefits are available to Proximity Learning teachers?
John Rollack: We do offer full benefits if you choose to sign up. Even if you only work four hours a day, you can still get full benefits if you choose. We do offer full healthcare, vision and dental. You get 401k after one year of employment with us. We’re also offering full-time positions this year, so that is something new. We want to make sure that you can work as much as you want to but also take care of your family. Your family and your spouse can also be included with your benefits if you choose.
Do teachers have to build their own curriculum?
Joseph Liang: No, you do not. Curriculum is a huge endeavor. We have a troop of people who do the curriculum writing. We also have evaluators and do quality checks. In my interview, I asked. When they said they had Chinese curriculum, I said, “Yes!” That was a great burden off my shoulders.
How long after applying does it take to hear back from Proximity Learning?
John Rollack: Usually 2-3 days. Right now we’re hiring for 2022-23, so it may take a little longer, but usually within 2 days we are responding and scheduling an interview with you.
What are your tips for the hiring process for those of us already very interested in teaching for Proximity Learning?
Samantha White: If you are interested in working with Proximity and have already applied and haven’t heard back on your application, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How does the salary and benefits compare with teaching at a public school?
Samantha White: It’s hard to compare because teacher pay varies greatly across the nation. Pay rate is based on the number of classes you teach and how many days per week those classes meet.
How big are the class sizes?
Diana Brown: I’ve had an average of 15 like a normal brick and mortar class size.
How is reciprocity handled across different states?
John Rollack: We follow state guidelines for the state your class is in. If you live in New York but teach a class in Alabama, we will help you get licensed in Alabama. We pay for that and have a certification specialist who will walk you through the process. All you have to do is submit your application, you will receive your license, and it is your license, not ours. You will also be more marketable if you decided to go back to a brick-and-mortar school.
How is this program different from other online teaching companies? Do teachers make the lesson activities or are they provided?
Joseph Liang: Proximity Learning has the best support you could ever get. I feel I have been better supported than when I was in a brick-and-mortar school. I don’t know any other school system or tutoring program that has better support. It’s amazing.
What hardware is required and what happens if you lose connection?
Samantha White: You do need to have a computer that is less than five years old. Unfortunately, we can’t use chromebook. If you do have a chromebook, you would have to purchase a new computer. If you lose connection, we understand that things happen. We just ask that you have good enough internet that you aren’t losing connection often. If you do lose connection, you just jump back in and pick up where you left off.
Are teacher’s lectures recorded? If so, are they posted anywhere online?
John Rollack: Yes, we do record all lessons, but that is to support you. As a principal, I would walk down the halls and observe classes. We can’t do that virtually, so we record lessons to watch. Or if a student is out, we can send the recording to the student. We do not post regular lessons online publicly. If you are creating content for us like if we ask you to write curriculum for us, that belongs to Proximity Learning. If we pay you to write content for us, that belongs to us. But your lesson plans or anything you use to support your curriculum in the classroom will always belong to you.
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