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[Professional Development] Is Online Teaching Right for You?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 -- Scott Sterling

For many educators, online teaching has a certain allure. The idea of teaching in your pajamas from home (or, with the right job and the right equipment, anywhere) can seem like a dream when the alarm jolts you awake for another day filled with all the pressures of the classroom. And for many educators, online teaching really is a flexible and fulfilling option. However, many other teachers find it isn’t a fit and end up returning to a brick-and-mortar school. Are you considering making the switch to online teaching (or adding it on as a second job)? Here are four questions to ask yourself before taking the leap.

How self-motivated are you?

Most online teaching positions aren’t very rigid when it comes to scheduling. You may have some scheduled online meetings, but otherwise your interactions with students can occur at any time. This can be an opportunity or a challenge. If you don’t struggle with distractions and procrastination, and enjoy a variable schedule, teaching online may be perfect. But, if you’re honest with yourself and realize that you’re just as likely to watch TV or browse the web rather than working, it may be wise to reconsider.

How important is money?

First, a simple fact: online teaching usually pays less than traditional positions. However, this is balanced by the convenience and savings of not having to commute, keep a professional wardrobe, and (possibly) not needing to put your kids in daycare. You may come out ahead taking an online position, but be sure to review your budget before making any assumptions.

Additionally, consider the intangibles of any compensation package. Many online teaching positions offer benefits, but many others don’t. You may need to find your own health insurance or set up and fund your own retirement account. Both of those could be a hit to your bottom line compared to a traditional teaching position.

What certifications do you carry?

Many states run their own online schools, for which you would qualify for any teaching position with your existing certification. However, many online teaching jobs are with independent nationwide or regional schools, which means your students may not be in your state. If that’s the case, you will likely have to pursue certifications in the state(s) where your students live or where the school’s main office is located.

How important is interaction?

In the vast majority of online teaching positions, the time spent interacting with students, colleagues, and parents is significantly less than if you were teaching in a brick-and-mortar school. Much of your interaction will come in the form of message board posts, email, and chat rooms. For introverts, this may sound like a perk, and many educators are able to cultivate strong, meaningful relationships with their online students. But, if you value face time when forming relationships with students, collaborating with colleagues, and seeing those “a ha!” moments as they happen, you may be disappointed with the online environment. It’s all about your personal style and preferences.

Want more insight into what teaching online is like? Find out how our EdOptions Academy instructors are Building Strong Relationships in Student-Teacher Relationships in Online Courses!