Diana Brown taught Math in brick and mortar schools for seven years before she decided to transition to becoming a certified virtual teacher. Family time is her main priority, but her passion is teaching. She was devastated when she left teaching to stay home with her young children. When she learned that she could make her own schedule and teach from home, Ms. Brown applied immediately.
She is now in her fourth year of teaching with Proximity Learning. This year, conducts live virtual instruction for 9th-grade Geometry and 10-11th grade Algebra 2 in Texas four days per week, plus 8th-grade Algebra 1 in Tennessee five days per week all from her home in Virginia.
Relationship Building Through Teaching Remotely
When Ms. Brown originally transitioned to live virtual instruction, she missed the collaboration with her coworkers. In brick and mortar schools, Math teachers would sit together at lunch to form friendships, trade ideas and seek advice. To bring that camaraderie into the virtual teaching world, she joins Proximity Learning’s coffee talks and office hours to share resources and ask questions peer-to-peer. Teachers are invited to engage on Tribe, Proximity’s teacher engagement platform, earn badges for achievements and join content-specific departmental meetings to meet their virtual coworkers.
To grow more relationships, Ms. Brown also acts as a mentor for new certified virtual teachers through the Teacher Ready program and through Proximity Learning. She has one mentee through Teacher Ready who shadows her classes and slowly leads activities in her classes throughout the year. She also mentors newly hired teachers with Proximity Learning. Certified teachers observe her in class and ask her any questions they have before launching their own virtual classrooms. The experience helps them to see how she sets up, signs on, interacts with students and utilizes online tools. She also acts as a resource once they begin teaching, and they can always come back to her with questions.
Student Engagement Improves Through Virtual Instruction
Ms. Brown also finds that students are more likely to ask questions through direct message than they would in a physical classroom. They could be embarrassed or shy and not speak up in the classroom. Through the anonymity of the chat, more students ask for help. Then, Ms. Brown can message them back directly or simply go over the concept again for the whole class. She finds students have a better understanding because they are not afraid to ask questions. Ms. Brown has observed impressive academic outcomes and social emotional learning skills gained by her students.
Ms. Brown engages with her students by asking them about school functions and how they spent their holidays. She includes students in her lessons by asking everyone to send her a picture from the holiday break. Last year, she made a collage and used it as her background for the day. The students loved seeing their photos included on her screen. She always encourages students to be open with her and come to her when they need help. The openness helps students trust her and thrive in her classroom.
Ms. Brown loves teaching remotely because she can spend more time with her family and continue her passion for helping students learn. The flexibility of creating her own schedule and working from home allows her to find balance. She especially enjoys connecting with students from across the country.
Congratulations to Diana Brown, our new Math Department Chair! She will mentor certified virtual math teachers as she continues teaching her own classes.