WTF: Winning The Fight Against First-Day Frustration
“Where do I even start?”
You start with today, and you go one day at a time.
No matter how long you’ve wanted to become a virtual teacher, getting started has its challenges. I’d be lying if I said this career would never feel overwhelming or just plain impossible at times when first starting off. Heck, I’d be lying if I told you that moments of frustration and feeling overwhelmed don’t pop in from time to time even after you’ve been teaching online for a while. It comes and goes … much like my time spent at the gym.
You’ll notice that the work will go really smoothly for a while, and you’ll feel like you have things figured out. You’ll be in full-on beast mode … and then, BAM, you’ll find yourself so overwhelmed and stressed, you’ll be shoving a gallon of rocky road ice cream down your gullet, wondering if you can survive the pay cut that would come with working at Starbucks.
This is a universal truth, and here’s why: think about all the things you’re accustomed to doing in a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom each day.
- Lesson planning
- Presenting new material
- Conquering classroom management
- Answering 300 questions, 50 being the same one asked over and over again
- Navigating small-group instruction
- Creating student-friendly resources
- Scaffolding information based on level
- Paperwork … lots and lots of paperwork
- Monitoring individual student growth
- Parent/teacher conferences
Really, I could fill a book with this stuff—the list here is just a small percentage of what you do in a day. And it doesn’t include all the other “stuff” that comes with being a teacher, like car line, lunch duty, hall duty, bathroom duty, duty to make sure others are on duty—the list goes on and on.
A few of these tasks are removed once you begin teaching virtually, but there are more than enough new tasks to fill the time. As a virtual teacher, you now need to add in an extremely high volume of emails, phone calls, online meetings, live lessons, individualized academic assistance, text messages, and the occasional late-night call from a panicked student regarding an assignment that’s due at midnight.
Although the distance-learning setting looks and feels different, the ongoing list of tasks is just as long, if not longer. On top of all that, now that you’re working from the comfort of your home, your work will always be with you.
In order to conquer the distance-learning world and develop into a successful, efficient, and effective online teacher, it’s important to understand some of the best practices of online teaching and the reasons behind them. With the right know-how, you’ll be rocking the online world in no time.
SOS: Strategies for Online Survival: The essential getting-started guide for virtual teachers