When we were students, we spent time researching the schools we wanted to attend. We looked at the reputation, ranking, degree choices, cost and alignment to our personal goals. We shopped around and we found the school that fit best. I chose traditional schools with an aviation emphasis for my aviation degrees, and an online school for my Ph.D. in Educational Leadership. I did not make these choices quickly, and I have never regretted them. I am sure all of you did the same and feel the same about your alma maters. Why then does it seem that people are not that selective about schools when it come to teaching online for them?
I belong to a Yahoo Newsgroup titled “Online Teaching Jobs: Make a Living Teaching Online.” I just checked and there are 5018 members in this group, 47 new members in the last seven days. The group shares tips on schools that are hiring, offers advice to people about applying to schools, laments over plagiarism and excuses in the online classroom and provides a social outlet for people who dress up for work in duck slippers. Come join us if you want to learn more.
I have noticed a trend when reading the threads on the Newsgroup: people are so desperate for work that they take an online teaching job anywhere that offers. This may be a symptom of our poor economy, but is it fair to our students? Shouldn’t we as faculty interview the school and make sure it is a good match for our teaching philosophy and expectations, just like we did when we searching for our own graduate school?
This past weekend someone on the Newsgroup asked a simple question, “what school do you least like teaching for and why?” The first reply came back within minutes stating that it was ABC College, because you are micromanaged and all the students come from a certain place (this was a derogatory remark I won’t repeat). The group has been buzzing about this every since, some people agree with the writer of the comment, while others were offended.
I teach for ABC College and I am happy I do. I chose to teach there, even though I already was teaching thesis and doctoral-level courses at other schools. I wanted to be able to make a difference in the lives of students who were taking the steps to better themselves. Yes, some of the students are very poor learners at this college. Yes, I fail many students at this college. No, I am not micro-managed, as I know there are deadlines that I need to meet. These remedial students need structure and feedback to succeed and the instructor needs to have feedback deadlines to help them improve. I went into ABC College with my eyes wide open and I have enjoyed it ever since. I interviewed them while they were interviewing me. It was a good match and I took the teaching job. I am approaching 18 months of constant teaching for ABC College, and I am not ready to give it up.
I have some students who are such a joy to watch learn and grow. I just finished two classes at ABC College on Sunday and I am giving out many different grades. I have A, B, C, D and F students; I also have Katie (not her real name). Katie started the class with abominable grammar, awful spelling, and no idea what a capital letter or how to use punctuation. I worked with Katie on every assignment—correcting her grammar, teaching her to use the entire keyboard, and working with her study skills. For many weeks Katie continued to struggle and fail the class, but her work improved every week. By midpoint in the class, Katie started to blossom. I watched her continue to improve and I cheered her along every week. Katie ended up passing my class with a D. Not everybody would be proud of Katie, but I am. If an A could have been given for improvement, Katie earned it. Katie can succeed if she continues to grow the basic skills I have been teaching her. I made a difference to Katie and she is the reason I teach for ABC College.
ABC College is a good match for me, though it may not be for you. If you don’t have a good fit with an online school, don’t take the job.