Teacher Effectiveness Vice Principal, Mary Bartkowski, reflects on everything she has learned this year and the best practices for virtual teaching she will utilize next year.
“You can do anything but not everything.” -David Allen
Yes, teachers can do anything but not everything. Many teachers have unrealistic expectations put on us that we have to be doing everything. Time and time again, the key reason that teachers are leaving the profession completely doesn’t have to do with pay or classroom behavior, it has to do with workload.
Why teach virtually? The benefits of teaching from home:
- Better work-life balance
Virtual teachers have a flexible schedule. We can start and end our days when we choose.
- Less commute stress
Ditching the commute allows online educators to focus on their priorities outside of work like getting extra sleep in the morning, spending more time with family, getting a workout in, or eating a good breakfast.
- Location independence
Military spouses can teach wherever the government sends them. You do not have to start over at the bottom of a new school on every single move. If you like to travel, you can teach wherever there is a stable internet connection.
- Customizable office
Working from home gives you the opportunity to build your workspace exactly as you like it.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, the average teacher who works from home saves $5,000 per year not paying for transportation, gas, car maintenance, wardrobe, lunch, classroom decor, and classroom supplies.
- Increased productivity & performance
Online teachers can focus on what really matters - the students. There are fewer interruptions, less administrative politics, and fewer meetings to attend. This leads to better productivity.
- Happier & healthier
Virtual teachers tend to be happier and healthier because working from home has shown to lower stress because there is more opportunity to engage with hobbies and make connections with the people they love.
Advice for certified virtual teachers
- Ask for feedback
Being open to feedback helps you grow as a virtual teacher. Join office hours and ask for support. Listen to other teachers’ questions to learn from their experiences.
Decide on a certain time of day when students can expect grades to be posted, new assignment emails to be sent, and announcements to be made. Consistency and clear communication build the foundation for a trusting relationship.
- Set realistic expectations
Prioritize learning opportunities to maximize the student choice and the student's voice. Wherever possible, replace grades with live feedback and be flexible with due dates.
- Look for tech solutions
Having multiple tech options, varied resources, and additional time built into your lessons can be helpful in order to handle some unforeseen mishaps.
- Be flexible
It is important to be prepared and have your slideshows and lesson plans ready. It’s also really important to be flexible. Engaged learning is a collective end goal. It’s not necessarily that you get through everything you prepared. Allow those tangents to become learning opportunities.
- Join a community
It’s not just important that we maintain relationships with our students. It’s also important that we maintain relationships with colleagues. Remote teaching can be isolating, so make connections. Plan regularly scheduled meetings with teachers you have connected with where everyone shares resources or tips.
- Set boundaries
Set boundaries around how and when students, caregivers and facilitators can contact you for additional help.
Educators are in the people business. We dedicate our time, resources, and hearts to the benefit and growth of our students. Implement self-care routines in order to be the best version of yourself. It will benefit your students, your family and yourself.
Advantages of teaching with Proximity Learning
- Simplified lesson planning
- The workload is directly linked to well-being
- Happy teachers produce better outcomes in the classroom
Teachers have a voice
- Treated as trusted professionals
- Teachers' well-being increases when they are valued
Promotions from within
- Teachers are trained to move upward within the company
- Our management has practical experience in the classroom
- Allows for greater compassion
- Enhanced efficiency
- Improved engagement
- Full-time and part-time positions available
- Health care options
- Canvas LMS
- Foundational materials available
- Autonomy in your classroom to develop lesson plans
- Curriculum department
- Department chairs for specific subjects
- Free Teachers Pay Teachers credits to supplement your lessons
How to finish strong
- Ask students to help create lessons
- Go on a virtual field trip
- Invite guest speakers
- Use breakout rooms
- Consider student emotions
Use the end of the year and beginning of summer to reflect on the past year’s triumphs and challenges. This can be done in a variety of ways, including making notes to yourself about what students loved as well as how to improve, asking students about their own successes and hardships and using this information to plan for next year. Other ways to grow going into the new year could be reaching out to colleagues to exchange ideas and support each other or brainstorming ways to build trust with students by offering stability and routine. The more you reflect and plan for next year, the more prepared you will be to tackle the challenges ahead.