Making the transition from teaching in a classroom to teaching online can be a big transition. Luckily, there’s a lot to love about the world of online teaching!
Since Summer 2017, I’ve been teaching English online with VIPKID. I quickly fell in love with the location independent lifestyle and I’ve always been a bit of an educational tech nerd, so naturally, a job as an online English teacher was right up my alley.
I taught in a public school in South Carolina for three years before transitioning to the online teacher life. There were many things I loved about teaching in the classroom, and there are many things I love about teaching online. This post will cover the main differences between the two as well as some techie gear that will make your online teaching routine easier.
In this post, I’ll talk about some of the ways the two are different. If you’re a current teacher thinking of switching to online life, this post should help you know what to expect.
If you’re new to the site, start by checking out these posts about life as a VIPKID Teacher!
- An Overview of Teaching Online with VIPKID
- Is VIPKID Legit? VIPKID Teacher Reviews
- VIPKID Teacher Requirements
- 10 Companies where you can Teach English Online without a Degree
- Pros and Cons of Teaching English Online
Teaching in a Traditional Classroom
In a traditional classroom, teachers work longer hours but typically have a bit of “downtime” throughout the day. This can take the form of planning periods, school assemblies, days when the kids were taking a quiz, etc. I’ll admit it, if I felt sick, we enjoyed a healthy dose of “independent reading and answering questions” fun-ness in my classroom.
Teachers plan most of their own lessons, activities, quizzes, and other materials. Often, teachers take quizzes, tests, and essays home to grade on the weekends. While there is a lot of outside work during the week, teachers can plan on weekends and summers off.
Since classrooms have many students, differentiating instruction to meet pupils at different levels is mandatory. Regular communication with parents is established through progress reports, phone calls, report cards, and school functions.
The community in most schools is quite strong. Teachers have friendships with co-workers and staff members. Collaboration is a regular part of the work week.
Online teachers typically work fewer hours. However, each hour is much more focused. Your eyes never leave the screen during your class. It is active teaching at all times because parents pay good money for every moment of instruction. They want you to interact and engage the child at all times.
Weekend and summers are busy for online schools. Since students are out of regular school, the demand is high for supplementary classes. The work hours vary depending on your time zone and the time zone of your students. If you teach students in Asia and live in the States, you will likely be working early in the morning or later in the evening.
In many online teaching jobs, teachers interact with students one-on-one. You don’t have to worry about different students working at different levels – you can go at the pace of the student in the moment.
Lesson planning is done for you, assessments are completed during class, and typically online teachers have no work outside of class aside from parent feedback. With most platforms, the only way to communicate with parents is through feedback after class.
Technical issues can be a real bummer. In the classroom, I tried to always have a backup plan if the technology didn’t work one day. With online classes, the whole lesson depends on technology. Luckily, you can plan for the worst by teaching from a mobile hot spot and following these steps to teach through a power outage.
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What Technology Do I Need To Teach Online?
One of the biggest things that changed when I transitioned from teaching in person to teaching online was my reliance on technology. As you can imagine, online teaching is all about the tech!
Here are the necessities!
- Device: You’ll need a device like a laptop, desktop, or tablet with a strong internet connection
- Ethernet Cord: If your wifi isn’t very strong, connecting your device to your router with an ethernet cord could save you a big headache. Remember that some newer laptops don’t have a designated ethernet port so you might need to buy an adaptor also. See Ethernet Cords on Amazon
- Headset with microphone: Get a comfortable headset with a microphone attachment so your students can hear you better. See this post for my top online teaching headset recommendations!
- Lighting: Make sure your students can see your lovely face! See this post about how to set up your online classroom lighting!
- Props and Visuals: Like in a traditional classroom, visual teaching tools are helpful for explaining challenging concepts. A dry erase board will be your best friend as an online teacher! This post has all my online teaching props!
Some things never change
There are some things about teaching online that are quite similar to teaching in a typical classroom. You can decorate your digital classroom much the same way you can decorate your real classroom!
You will be confined to a tiny box that is visible on the screen, but I’ve seen how creative some of you teachers are! You can make it cute and beautiful just like you would in the classroom.
Just like in the real world, you have to improvise and think on your feet. Sure, the lessons are done for you, but if something goes wrong with the lesson loading, or if your student blazes through it super fast, or if they are really struggling, you will have to get creative, just like in the classroom.
My students are 100% the most amazing part of my job, both in the classroom and online. In the classroom, I was thrilled to get to know so many sweet, smart, and vibrant young people.
Turns out, kids are incredible whether they are in the classroom in the USA or in your computer on the other side of the world. Every day working online, I laugh and smile and the sweet and hilarious things my kiddos say.
I guess some things never change.
Teaching with VIPKID
I teach English online with VIPKID and I have had a great experience! If you are interested in teaching English online, I encourage you to check them out. You can find their FAQ and additional information here: https://t.vipkid.com.cn/faq
You can apply to VIPKID online with my referral link here
Referral Code: NICOL0117
If you decide to sign up for VIPKID and found this post helpful, consider using my referral code. When you use my referral code and complete the recruitment process, I’ll get a bonus for recruiting you.
After you apply with my code, Send me a message letting me know. I’ll be available to answer any questions you have as you go through the application process.
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