Hello teachers!

Are you a K-12 teacher? Are you contemplating teaching online (but you’re apprehensive, scared, terrified)?  Then you might want to stop here for a bit and find out if online teaching appeals to you. Wait, did you say you are already an online K-12 teacher?  WOO HOO!!

 

WELCOME TO MY WORLD!

 

Look around.  Put your feet up and relax a while. Here, you will learn about necessary skills, time management, and appropriate attire for working online. You can call me your chum, coach, cohort, collaborator, colleague, companion, compeer, comrade, confidante, confrere, counselor, crony…

 

…aw, heck; just call me “friend.” 🙂

 

We’ll have lots to do and say here, but before we get started…you might want to know more about me and why I love online teaching. I promise we’re going to talk about that A LOT, and I’ll give you my first reason a little later in this post.  For now, we’re still in the getting to know each other phase so first things first.  Let’s talk about why a happy classroom teacher would even consider becoming an online teacher. After all, the traditional classroom teacher has security and benefits. The traditional teacher enjoys several paid time off days, plus a week off at Thanksgiving, a couple weeks off for a winter break, a week off for a spring break and three… well, okay…two months off in the summer.

 

So, it’s a fantastic job with good pay and lots of time off, right?

 

<…waiting for the guffaws to die down…>

 

Well, okay, that’s just what recruiters want you to think. 

 

Since I don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel, I’m going to share with you a fun story that essentially reeks with truth. It’s not subtle, it obviously lays it all right out there on the table for you and explains things better than I ever could, no matter how long I sit here and chew on my pen. (By the way, I used to have a pen addiction, but that’s another story.)

 

This particular message has been circulating through teachers’ email boxes for several years. You’ve probably read it at one time or another, but I’m repeating it here, because I may want to refer to it in the future.  I have no idea who the originator is, or who wrote it. I would very much like to give that person credit and invite them here to talk to us on a regular basis, so if you wrote it, please contact me!

 

Okay, okay, here it is.  Let me set it up for you.  A young, eager, optimistic and newly graduated teacher applicant has just interviewed with an administrator at a public school. After being offered a position and listening to the policies and procedures, the administrator asks the applicant for comments, questions, etc.  Here’s what that young, eager, optimistic applicant replies:    

 

“Let me see if I’ve got this right. You want me to go into that room with all those kids and fill their every waking moment with a love for learning. Not only that, I’m supposed to instill a sense of pride in their ethnicity, behaviorally modify disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, gang involvement and T-shirt messages.

 

I am to fight the war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, check their backpacks for guns or other weapons and raise their self-esteem. I’m to teach them patriotism, good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, how and where to register to vote, how to balance a checkbook and how to apply for a job.

 

I am to check their heads occasionally for lice, maintain a safe and nurturing environment, recognize signs of potential antisocial behavior, offer advice, write letters of recommendation for student employment and scholarships, encourage respect for the cultural diversity of others, and, oh yeah, always make sure that I give the girls in my class 50 percent of my attention.

 

I’m required by my contract to be working on my own time summer and evenings at my own expense toward advance certification and a master’s degree; and after school, I am to attend committee and faculty meetings and participate in staff development training to maintain my employment status. If there is a club or extracurricular activity that needs my expertise, I am expected to work on my own time to sponsor, supervise and maybe even raise funds for those extracurricular activities.

 

I am to be a paragon of virtue larger than life, such that my very presence will awe my students into being obedient and respectful of authority. I am to pledge allegiance to supporting family values, a return to the basics, and to my current administration. I am to incorporate technology into the learning, and monitor all Web sites while building a personal relationship with each student. I am to decide who might be potentially dangerous and/or liable to commit crimes in school or who is possibly being abused, and I can be sent to jail for not mentioning these suspicions.

 

I am to make sure all students pass the state and federally mandated testing and all classes, whether or not they attend school on a regular basis or complete any of the work assigned. Plus, I am expected to make sure that all of the students with handicaps are guaranteed a free and equal education, regardless of their mental or physical handicap. I am to communicate frequently with each student’s parent by letter, phone and grade card. I must ensure that no child will be left behind.

 

I’m to do all of this with just a piece of chalk, one computer, a few books, a bulletin board, a 45 minute more-or-less planning/conference time and a big smile, all on a starting salary that qualifies my family for food stamps in many states.” 

 

The applicant sighs heavily and asks, “Is that all?”  

The administrator shrugs.  

The applicant looks straight into the administrator’s eyes and says, 

“And you expect me NOT TO PRAY?”
 

So, reason #1 why I love teaching online: I get to pray anytime I want.

 

If you’re a K-12 online teacher, what’s your #1 reason for teaching online?

 

If you’re a K-12 traditional teacher, what’s the #1 reason stopping you from teaching online?

 

Until next time: laugh a little; learn a lot; live long!

 

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27 thoughts on “Hello teachers!

  1. Hi friend! Can I call you friend? 🙂

    I just read your blog and it is very interesting. I have been contemplating becoming a teacher. I am now thinking that an online teacher might be the perfect venue for me. I was always afraid to teach in a traditional classroom because of the discipline some students seem to need, but I wasn’t sure if I could handle that aspect of teaching.

    It occurred to me that online teachers would not have to deal with discipline problems and that the discipline would invariably revert back onto the parents.

    My question is: Can a prospective teacher apply to an online school with no brick and mortar classroom experience? The thought of trying to teach a group of children that might have discipline problems scares me to death. Therefore I think that an online classroom might be perfect for me.

    I hope to hear back from you soon.

    Sincerely,

    RamblinManMike 🙂

    • Handling discipline in the classroom was never an area of expertise for me, and it depends on the teacher as to what kind of discipline is used. I did okay, but because of my teaching style, my classroom was rarely quiet. This didn’t agree with some of the other teachers in my grade level, but I think a student learns better when s/he is engaged in the learning. I taught with projects, which usually meant groups of some sort, or just independent study. Anyway, as a grade level, and even as a school, we tried elaborate discipline systems and theories, like “Love and Logic” and “Discipline with Dignity,” neither of which actually turned into a school- or district-wide solution.

      As one assistant principal pointed out, you first had to have discipline, then you could implement dignity.

      We don’t have the same kinds of discipline problems online, but we still have to monitor student activity and follow up with students who do not attend regularly or submit work in a timely fashion.

      As for applying to teach at an online school, anyone (even prospective teachers) can apply, but it does help to have experience teaching. Usually, the school will have its own training program that you must complete before they give you a class; although this is not always true. Don’t count yourself out just because you’ve never taught, but while you’re applying, you might want to take an online class, just to get the “feel” of what it’s like from the student side. I take online classes all the time, because it helps me be empathetic as a teacher. As a matter of fact, I’m currently taking a blogging course to help me make this an awesome place for teachers to visit. You can check it out at http://blogwritingcourse.com/about/

      I hope this helps, and good luck on your career!

      Laugh a little; learn a lot; live long!

  2. Excellent story — seems to set us up for the future of learning.

    I expect that online teaching will only be one component of teaching in the future because how else will we teach discipline? Otherwise, would teaching discipline become the exclusive domain of family members? How will we reach every child if they are not already motivated?

    Good luck!

    • Your comment reminds me of an experience I had many years ago, just before I landed my first job in a traditional, public school classroom. I was interviewing with principals and grade level teams, and in between interviews I was subbing at local schools. I was working a week-long sub for a teacher who was attending a funeral, and this one beautiful spring day, this class had an epidemic of Spring Fever and was trying every possible thing to drive me crazy. To make things worse, I was subbing at a school where they were trying to implement a discipline system called “Discipline with Dignity.” As I met with the assistant principal for about the third time that day, she sighed heavily and not to anyone in particular, she said, “Unfortunately, we implemented this discipline system before we thought it through; students must first have discipline before we can give them dignity.”

      I think if children were taught more discipline in the home, we could give them more dignity at school.
      Just my humble opinion…

      Laugh a little; learn a lot; live long!

  3. Yes I’ve read that story so many times I have lost count, HOWEVER, I an always amused by the truth in it! Thanks for sharing it!

    Your blog looks good. I like the clean look of it. I keep thinking about switching to WordPress but I have put too much energy into my blog using another host. I like how you can reply to the comment, right on the comment page. I will be trying to do that with my blog now!

    • You’re welcome!

      I agree with you; I love the ability to reply to the comment right on the comment page.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Laugh a little; learn a lot; live long!

  4. Thanks so much! I’ll try to have more for you when you check back! I am determined to keep up with this blog, because there is so much I want to share with other K-12 online teachers. Of course, I don’t have to tell you about the time dilemma; I’m sure you never have enough time, either! It’s the way of the cyberworld…

    Laugh a little; learn a lot; live long!

  5. Pingback: New K-12 Online Learning Blogger « Virtual High School Meanderings

  6. I hope that your blog is still active. I would be very interested in learning about the experiences of k-12 online teachers. I currently teach using BlackBoard discussion groups, and would like to take the next step toward full online teaching; some of my colleagues are using Wimba. I teach certification classes for teachers and have been a long-time classroom teacher myself. One professor began calling me Virtual School Guy.

    I am also planning a research study to describe the experiences of online teachers in the k-12 world and would welcome anyone who would like to participate by sharing their experiences — your identity would be protected, of course. If interested, please email me: dfederico@aol.com with the subject “online teacher”.

    • Hi Guy! I’m alive, and as long as I’m alive, I guess this blog is active. I don’t post much, mainly because I’m so busy teaching, lol. However, I welcome anyone else to write about their online teaching experiences.

      I would be interested in reading your research study, when it’s finished. I wish you the best of luck with that!

      Thanks for stopping by…

      Viki

  7. I love the story that you posted because it is so much of what we think and yet never say. I am in my eleventh year of teaching in a live virtual classroom. I teach sixth grade mathematics to approximately 100 students and it is my dream job. Can you ever imagine after teaching a class, having a student say to you, “Thank you for teaching me today”? That is what I love about the online school that I work for. The students value their education and appreciate having a nice safe school to be educated in. There is no bullying, no pressure about looks or what the students are wearing and no discipline problems. I am living the dream…in my pajamas of course.

  8. I enjoyed reading your blog! The “Jeff Foxworthy” list was funny and I think any online teacher can relate.
    I also can appreciate the story about the young man interviewing for a teaching job at a brick and mortar school. I have spent 4 years teaching in a traditional school and 4 years in an online school so I can relate to the upsides and downsides of both. Although I miss teaching my fourth graders in a traditional classroom this story reminded me of all the things I do not miss…lol!
    Honestly, I have been working for a cyber school for long enough now to know that I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I think most of my coworkers would agree.

  9. Hello!

    I am an online teacher. I teach special education grades 6-12. I enjoyed reading your blog post and I have to admit that I never thought I would be a virtual teacher. I guess that isn’t really important. The important thing is here I am, an online teacher, and I love it!!!! Just like all teaching positions, it is difficult. There are new sets of challenges that online teachers face, attendance, communication, on task time, etc… but the challenge has been worth it to me. I truly enjoy working with my students and their families on a daily basis. Whenever it the right fit for both the student and the teacher, it is an amazing experience that I am so lucky to be apart of!!! I hope I answered some of your questions and look forward to reading more about this type of blog.

  10. Vicki,
    I just came across your website in doing some blog searching for my new grad school course.. I must say I love your blogs and plan to follow from here on out! I too am an online teacher, for a k-12 school. I do love my job and I was so very amused at the “You know you’re an online teacher if…”! I look forward to reading more! Way to go.

  11. I have to say that I enjoyed everything that you wrote. I work for a cyber school, and in 8 months figured out it is more fun to teach online than in a brick and mortar setting. Yes there are internet problems, and students logging into class and not being in class, but those are minor set backs. I taught a pssa prep class for 6th grade math and loved it. The children helped me with some of the technology issues that I was having, and I taught them a refresher course to get ready for pssa testing.
    I did enjoy reading your rendition of “You Know You are an Online Teacher.” Everything that you had come up with was on the money with what an online teacher is, does, and thinks. I can’t wait to see what else you blog.
    Thanks

  12. I quite enjoyed reading your blog! Everything you discuss here is very familiar to me as an online High School English Teacher with Pa Cyber Charter School! I especially enjoyed your rendition of Jeff Foxworthy’s observations of school teachers. Many are true to life and I found myself nodding my head in agreement on nearly all of them! My husband has pleaded with me many times to NOT check email at 3am when it goes off! As for your observations on Web 2.0 tools, I am just learning how to use them! It’s really strange how I’ve been a cyber charter school with Pennsylvania’s largest cyber charter high school for 10 years and I only just got into making my own website and using blogs and wikis two years ago! I always used multimedia in my classroom, but never thought to have students create their own original content on a website until this year! Both my 8th and 9th graders are using http://www.kerpoof.com to create their own study guides and research projects! The concept is very fun and exciting! So far, my 8th graders love the idea that they can use a website to create a story or a movie on their own! I’m quite enthusiastic about using more Web 2.0 tools. I only began using them out of necessity two years ago when our platform for virtual classroom could not accomodate the rich multimedia filled lessons I enjoy teaching. Now that I am in a Masters program with Franciscan University in Steubanville, OH, I am learning much much more on blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, Web 2.0 tools, and digital stories! It’s really fun and invigorating! Do you have any favorite Web 2.0 tools you like to use?

  13. I have been a virtual classroom biology teacher for the past 5 years. I have to admit that when I was hired, I knew very little about the virtual classroom. I as with most individuals wondered how it is possible to engage students in the learning process in the virtual world. It did not take long for me to realize that without the distractions of behavior issues, peer pressure, and bullying, students are able to concentrate on the learning process. It is refreshing to spend the time in the classroom actually teaching the material and not disciplining the students. I recently did a research project in which I studied the social interaction within a virtual classroom. My results showed that the students had an increase in grades after enrolling in Cyber School. I am thankful that the virtual classroom is available for students that do not benefit from the traditional brick and mortar classroom.
    It is definitely a challenge actively engaging the students in the virtual classroom. It is not always possible to do lab activities that can normally be done in the brick and mortar classroom. However, there are a lot of virtual labs and animations that are available. The students enjoy learning about gel electrophoresis by completing the following virtual lab, http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/units/biotech/gel/ . Students can compare and contrast Meiosis and Mitosis at the following website, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/baby/divi_flash.html. Protein synthesis is described at the website, http://www.biostudio.com/demo_freeman_protein_synthesis.htm. The previous sites are just a few of my favorite sites that I enjoy using in my classroom. There are many animations, videos, and online activities that can reinforce the material. Students can also interact with other students during breakout sessions.
    Every year I learn a little more about the technology that is available for the virtual classroom. I am currently enrolled in a course in which I am learning about the use of blogging, podcasts, wikis, and digital storytelling. I am excited to add some of these techniques to my own classroom. Since online instruction is the future of education, it is important for future teachers to be properly trained in online instruction.

  14. It is very interesting to read insights from fellow virtual teachers. I just completed one full year working at a cyber charter school and beginning year number two! I’m teaching virtual 3rd grade math and I absolutely love it. I never thought I would be teaching online when I was in college but I am so glad that I had the opportunity and went for it. The future is definitely in cyber schools and I’m glad to be a part of it. The story that you told about the expectations and responsibilities of teachers is so true, it is great to see it laid out and described in such detail for the world to see. As virtual teachers and having other positions within virtual schools, we still have those responsibilities and expectations to fulfill in the lives in our students but just do it in a different way. Thank you for sharing this great blog!

    • I will complete my 16th year teaching first grade at a Catholic school in June. My school has declining enrollment as many Catholic schools nationwide do. I don’t know if I will have a job in a few years, so I am looking at my possible options. I was wondering if anyone knew of a website/blog that covered online teaching at the elementary level. Christina, you mentioned you teach virtual 3rd grade math, so is that the only subject you teach? I have enjoyed reading this blog and everyone’s responses. Thanks!

  15. Hi Christina,
    I too am a virtual classroom teacher. I agree that the future of education may be in cyber schooling. I enjoyed reading your comment. It was also nice to read other teachers comments and to see how positive our expectations are in cyber schools.

  16. Hi Vicki!

    I’ve really enjoyed reading over your posts on your blog and the enthusiasm you bring to online education! This is my first year working with an online public school and I am really enjoying it. I work as an instructional supervisor witht the PA Cyber Charter School – I’m assigned to over 100 students who advocate for, schedule classes, monitor progress, provide intervention, and support on a daily basis. Over the past eight months, I have watched students grow and find a curriculum that truly works for them as individuals. I can admit that the virtual classroom is not the answer for every student, but it truly does work for certain students. When graduating last may from college, I never would have thought I would be an educator for an online school, but I am so happy that I decided to take this opportunity.
    With all of them new 21st century learning and technology advancements available to us as educators, it’s amazing what we can implement into our teaching lessons. Students today want to learn through the web and technology – they are using both in their everyday lives with their own hobbies and interests, so connecting it with what they are learning only makes sense. I’ve seen students make their own digital stories, websites, audio recordings, and create digital posters. As an English educator, I have found digital media to really work well with lessons and assignments that would normally be completed through pencil and paper – now teachers and students can express their thoughts through media and technology. It’s a blast!

  17. Hi everyone! I am also a virtual cyber charter school teacher teaching from the comforts of my home. This is my fifth year teaching 5th grade Math and I am enjoying every minute of it. I must say I was very skeptical when I first started. I always wanted to teach in the classroom. I substituted three years prior and could not wait to have my own classroom. When this opportunity arose at the Cyber School it was hard to refuse since teaching jobs were so limited. I have had several teachers outside of the virtual classroom say to me that the school I teach in is not effective and that the children are not getting the social interaction that they need. If someone said this to me five years ago, I would not argue. Now, with all my experience in the virtual world I am the first to start the debate. Bring it on! I think the tables are finally turning. Recently, a lot of outside teachers are now asking me “how do I apply?” I consider myself to be in a fortunate position. Virtual learning is the future of learning. I don’t believe cyber schools will replace traditional schools, but it will definitely have a big impact on them. More and more blended schools are coming about. What I enjoy about my job is rolling out of bed at 7:40 A.M. when class starts at 8:00 A.M., putting my headphones on and greeting my 100 students (20 per class) everyday, teaching, and getting paid. These are just some of the benefits of teaching online. My students are not all pocket full of sunshine’s just like students in any other school, and situations do arise, but you handle them accordingly. You may not see your students face to face, but you really do get to know your students individually just through voice everyday. There are days when you bang your head off your computer and you are thankful that your students cannot see you rolling your eyes. I just remind myself to breathe! 🙂

  18. I am a classroom teacher and have been pondering the idea of online teaching. I am curious whether or not the pay is comparable.

    • Hi, Deneen,
      Great question! Unless you can find full-time online, and those jobs are few and far between, you have to hold down several jobs online to maintain the same pay as a classroom teacher, and even then, there are no benefits, like health insurance. For instance, right now, I am working part time at four online schools, and will soon add one more. This generates a comparable salary, but it does require a great deal of self-discipline and above average organization. The up side is that I work in my jammies and fuzzy slippers (low budget for clothes); I take breaks whenever I want, I do not have to maintain a vehicle for work, and I am my own boss. The schools for which I work do very little micro-managing, and that’s very important to me. Yes, I’m on the computer A LOT, but I’m home, and that makes it all worth it!!

      I hope that helps!

      Thanks for stopping by, and come back soon!

      Take care,

      Viki Gardner

  19. Hola Viki!

    I have been a traditional brick and mortar school teacher (Spanish) for the past 5 years, but am hoping to move to an online environment soon.. I’ve been applying to virtual and cyber schools as I would really like to utilize my experiences in a new format. In addition, I feel that an online education will become a part of a traditional educational experience for the majority of students before we know it! (whether it is in a full time or part time format). I just also wanted to say thanks for the blog — I’ve really enjoyed reading through it and will keep coming back to see if there are any new posts!

    Gracias!
    –Lisa

  20. Hello Viki,
    Thanks for your site. I taught HS English for 12 years. I am certified in California, live in PA, and applying to get certified in PA and a couple more states. I currently work in education but not in the classroom. I want to come home in more ways than one. I want to return to teaching and I want to homeschool my 2 kids. I am computer savvy. I earned my MEd online and understand the pros and cons of online ed. I want to take the leap but do not know the salary, the security, etc. I need to gross about 45000 a year. Hubby can carry the benefits. Any suggestions on how to plan this course of action?

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