What It's Really Like to be an Online English Teacher

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A online English teacher's desk. On the desk is a laptop, a notepad, a pen, a plant, and coffee.
Author: Charlotte Thompson Published on: July 11, 2018 Expected Reading Time: 5 mins

Having successfully made the switch from classroom teaching to teaching online, I get asked a lot of questions about how online teaching actually works. The number one question is: What is it really like to be an online teacher?

So I thought it was about time, that I put pen to paper and got it all down here for you, so that you can learn at your leisure!

The essential things that fellow teachers want to know about taking the step into online teaching are: What does an online lesson actually look like? How does online teaching work in reality? Which materials and tools do you use? How do you become an online teacher?

A great deal of questions – which is perfectly understandable.

Teaching is structured, predictable and guaranteed, so switching to online teaching when you already have a career as a teacher, can seem like a big step.

Let me tell you what a typical day in the life of an online teacher is like, and hopefully that will answer all of your questions, as well as enabling you to see if you can envisage yourself in this role.

Ultimately, making the switch for most of us is about achieving a better work-life or life-work balance. Educationworld.com suggests that ‘if you haven’t thought about leaving the profession before, statistically, you will’. So what we really need to know about online tuition is: will my day as an online teacher work better than my current work situation?

The Washington Post confirms what we all know from within the profession: the widespread feeling that ‘there has to be a better way’. According to the Washington Post, teacher shortages ‘are getting worse in many parts of the country. A report by the nonprofit Learning Policy Institute found that teacher education enrolment dropped from 691,000 to 451,000 - this is a 35 percent reduction’.

So first things first, what is an online teacher?

What is an online teacher?

An online teacher is a teaching professional who teaches students via technology, for example, over the internet or video calling. Teachers can teach students English, Math, and other subjects from anywhere in the world, without leaving the comfort of their home.

The flexibility that comes from being able to work from home means that this is a rapidly growing career option for teachers.

What qualifications and experience do you need to become an online teacher?

There are certain qualifications and experience that you need before you can teach students online. However, they are very simple and straightforward. Take a look at the list here, but remember you only need some of them.

What does an online lesson look like?

The actual online teaching session is very simple. I sit at my kitchen table to teach online. After a quick tidy of the table, I’m ready to start. Once I sit down in front of my laptop, I’m online and ready to go within a minute or two.

The student joins the call and I begin teaching my lesson. It is pretty incredible that I can teach and interact with students from all over the world like this - I quickly forget that they are not actually in front of me. The lesson is pretty much the same as a face-to-face tutoring session. You are still using all of your skills as a teacher

I have a little catch up with my students at the beginning of the session, just as you would with any other teaching lesson. After that, the rest of the time is structured in the same way as any face-to-face teaching session: review, teach, practice, etc. Depending on the subject that you are teaching, there may be a lot of oral work, if for example, you are teaching English.

In terms of how to find teaching materials, lesson plans and students to teach online, some online teachers source these themselves, which involves a significant amount of work. I don’t do this. My students, teaching materials, and lesson plans are provided by TwoSigmas' partner schools, as well as professional support for myself, so for me, finding teaching materials and students is totally hassle-free!

As well as the actual one-to-one sessions, I may have emails to reply to or work from students to mark, but I schedule my teaching sessions to allow time to do these tasks. I usually start the day by checking my emails and marking work. Then I will begin my first teaching sessions.

As I have got used to working from home, I have learnt to make ‘work time’, work time. That means I generally try and leave housework and other tasks for before and after work. However, I do enjoy the luxury of being able to do the odd chore or fix a nice lunch during the day.

Once I have finished working, I love that I can pick up the children from school and have quality time after school with them. I start my day before the children get up for school, down tools once they are up, then return to work once they are safely deposited in school.

I love the flexibility, variety and freedom that teaching online brings. It has completed rejuvenated my love of teaching, as I can teach in a place that is free from workplace politics and pressures. The idea that I can help students from all over the world at my kitchen table, amazes me every time I log on, and I have had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful students from around the globe.

Working from home is priceless. I have time for my children, myself and my partner. It is really lovely to be able to interact with the TwoSigmas team and their partner schools, and I am really motivated to continue to learn and grow as an online teacher, so their support is great!

So, I hope I have answered your many questions about what it is really like to be an online teacher.

With a better understanding of what an online lesson looks like, how online teaching works, and which materials and tools I use, I hope you feel better informed about whether taking the step into online teaching is right for you.

I did, and I can definitely say that I have absolutely no regrets.

See what you think - I’m off to collect my children from school.

For more information about teaching online or becoming an online teacher - get in touch.

To apply to be an online English teacher, click here.

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