Teaching happens in a classroom. Right? Well, with the ever-evolving technological age the definition of a “classroom” has been changing.
No longer do you need to wait in traffic, find a parking spot, spill your coffee, or trip over the sidewalk on your way to class. Teaching can happen just about anywhere at anytime. Most recently I have found myself teaching English at my dining room table in the wee hours of the morning to students in China.
People all over the world want to learn English for a variety of reasons. Luckily with the internet these needs can be filled with a click, loading screen, and headphones. Simple right? Well, it is a bit more complicated than that.
Over the past months, I have experienced many adventures and misadventures of teaching English online. Every class starts with a large cup of medium roast coffee, a mostly sharpened pencil, under-eye circles, and the overwhelming excitement of speaking with my students.
Everyday is different. Every class is different. Every student is different.
I know I am preaching these statements to a community of teachers who see these differences every day. But there is something special about teaching online. The unpredictability, freedom, ability to scaffold a class to just one student, cultural exchange, and community development that is created over the virtual strings of the internet.
I have no set age group or language level that categorizes my students. There is only one commonality, the desire to learn English.
Teaching English online is similar to teaching English in a traditional classroom. Teachers have to know their students, plan lessons, present effective lessons, and reflect. There are many other important steps in-between but you get the picture.
Depending on where your traditional classroom is, you might have to worry about satisfying students who pay for classes; this is a similar phenomenon to teaching online.
The major difference is that I am talking to a MacBook Air computer screen. I do not have a whiteboard to clarify meaning, but I have the internet full of pictures. I do not have the ability to share tactile teaching materials, but I can share my computer screen with my students.
I cannot say if I like teaching online better than teaching in a traditional classroom. To me, they are two different entities under one umbrella—teaching. For new professionals in the field trying to gain teaching experience or for long time TESOL professionals looking to diversify their resume, teaching English online is a great and unpredictable journey.
Stephanie Brown is NNETESOL’s publisher’s liaison. She’s also behind our latest push on social media. Check us out on facebook!