Online Tutoring: A New Way of Teaching
As a full-time teacher and a full-time mom, I have to split my time between family and work. The problem is, my time hasn’t split evenly.
As a traditional classroom teacher, I spent huge amounts of time before, during and after school thinking about my students. They were the people who I stayed up late at night for, grading papers and creating projects that considered each of their learning needs. I was at school for hours, providing tutoring for kids that needed extra help. It took away from my family time and I ended up feeling like I missed some important parts of my daughter’s life.
Not only did I feel that my school obligations were stealing my time, I felt that the traditional school experience wasn’t giving my students enough time to learn. Regardless of how much I prepared, assessed and retaught, there were some students who just didn’t have the time and attention to learn what they needed to know. So many of my students could have benefitted from one-on-one time with me or a professional tutor, but requirements like standardized testing, school-wide curriculum benchmarks and departmental assessment schedules meant that I had very little time to stop and help an individual to meet the standards.
There just wasn’t time to do everything well. So, I ended up doing everything “okay.” I worried about my students and how much of the curriculum they could retain as we raced through each concept and project. Clearly, students were being left behind, but I didn’t have the time to stop and help them. I felt that I was doing them a disservice, and decided that maybe teaching wasn’t for me.
My job working as an online tutor changed my entire perspective.
Online Tutoring: An Advantage for Teachers and Learners
Quickly, I realized that online learning is the most valuable tool that is at the disposal of educators today. Unlike a traditional classroom, online learning is low-stress and tailored for each student. This means that students who are afraid to speak or participate in a traditional classroom are much more likely to participate in an online environment. Online tutoring students who are typically shy or suffer from social pressure do much better in online education. Without their friends telling them how much to learn or how intelligent they are, many students build better self-esteem about their own cognitive abilities. Online tutoring allows a student to learn in his or her own way, while personalized connections with tutors give students the best chances of graduating high school and going to college.
Still, my most important reason for becoming an online tutor was time. Not only was there no rush to “push kids through” the material, the emphasis was on mastery instead of meeting deadlines. Students didn’t feel pressure to know everything on someone else’s timeline. Instead, I was able to work with them individually at their own pace. It resulted in better test scores, higher levels of retention and a better overall attitude towards learning.
If you looked at me today, you would never know that I almost quit teaching. As an online tutor, I am less stressed, more creative and highly motivated to teach. My students are happy to work with me and understand more information because I have the time to teach them the way they learn. I’ve even had enough time to stay home and focus on my family for a while.
Finally, I can spend my attention on the things that are the most important to me. I think it’s about time.
Willow Becker has been a teacher and professional writer for more than 10 years. She loves working with online schools, and has taught at the Life Skills Center in Colorado Springs and the EdOptions Academy in a completely online environment. Her blog is full of funny, inspiring stories about teaching, learning and being a mom.