Teachers Need More Flexibility, Autonomy and, Yes, Income
After eight years teaching English at public high schools in New Jersey, I’ve learned a secret: teachers want more!
Of course, teachers would love higher salaries—many are barely getting by—but I’m not just talking about money. Teachers enter the profession for moments of total engagement in the classroom. They also want the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to design and create meaningful learning experiences. Many are true innovators, constantly striving to learn, grow and share.
But the sad truth is, traditional school systems often limit the opportunities for teachers to grow, both financially and professionally.
Professionally, we are asked to follow scripted programs for our lessons and throw out creativity in favor of test prep. Class sizes are often larger than optimal, leaving teachers frustrated in their attempts to give all learners the attention they deserve. Even though we are passionate about our subject areas, it’s rare that we teach a full class of students who are academically ready for our material and interested in our content area.
Financially, there are very few options to improve our circumstances, aside from leaving the classroom to become an administrator or consultant. This usually means getting an advanced degree and taking on more student loan debt. With teachers’ starting salaries coming in lower than the average for a job requiring a Bachelor’s degree, this is generally not feasible.
All around the country, though, a passionate group of teachers has been quietly making extra money, or even replacing their full-time incomes, all while teaching the exact classes they want to teach, on their own schedules, from the comfort of their own homes.
Here are a few things they’ve discovered teaching with Outschool.
1) Teachers can earn more money, on their own time, teaching classes they love.
You don’t have to leave the classroom. Many K-12 and higher education teachers have found success by tapping into their existing passions to design the classes they’ve always wished to teach in their brick and mortar schools.
When Megan Hardy’s husband unexpectedly lost his job of 16 years, she needed to make up for the loss in her family’s income. Racking her brain for ideas, she landed on online teaching. Today, Megan teaches full-time online via Outschool. And she gets to teach about her favorite fantasy role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons.
Kirsten Bowman splits her time between San Francisco and Sweden, where she teaches courses on human rights at Uppsala University. Teaching on Outschool allows her to supplement her income while traveling throughout Europe, enriching her own children’s learning experiences.
While extra income earned on a flexible schedule is an obvious draw, what brings deep satisfaction to many Outschool teachers is the chance to teach what and how they want.
2) Teachers can flex their creative muscles.
Many teachers enter the profession not only because they love making an impact and working with children, but because they love their content area. We are readers, writers, historians, scientists, mathematicians, musicians…
On Outschool, teachers get the chance to truly express their creativity. They are empowered to design classes that learners will love. Here’s a small sample of current course offerings:
- Hamilton the Musical – A Discussion of the Pop Culture Hit
- Why Shower? Why Use Deodorant? What to do about Pimples – Hygiene for Teens
- LEGO Engineering Challenge
- Playing Guitar Like a Rockstar
- Critical Thinking Through Murder Mystery
Dr. Scott Beaver, a college professor and Outschool teacher, appreciates the freedom of curriculum on the platform.
“When you teach college or high school, you get a checklist of things you have to talk about, due to educational standards,” Dr. Beaver says. “Since I don’t have to worry about guidelines so much on Outschool, I can expand on my cool idea and make a class out of it.”
Laura Forde, who teaches history classes on Outschool, sums up the opportunities nicely: “It’s all the stuff you love about teaching without all the stuff that you don’t.”
She mentions that the autonomy “frees up the teacher to be able to really deliver a quality class, rather than just hitting the standards, or checking off things that they need to accomplish in the school year.”
3) Teachers can reach students around the world and engage them in authentic learning experiences.
“I was part of this research study where they had education majors sit in on like a million hours worth of science classes,” says Dr. Scott Beaver. The surprising result of the study was that “there’s no way to really teach science. The only thing you can do is get the learners motivated.”
That takeaway is apparent in Dr. Beaver’s classes, with names like “Minecraft Ores Chemistry” and “Atom Smashing Secrets Revealed.” These classes may cover traditional science, but they do so in a non-traditional way. His autonomy over the curriculum, activities and even class names gives learners the chance to grapple with science content in a fun and exciting way, with a creative and engaged teacher.
The unique benefit of live online classes, centered around topics that both the teachers and the learners have chosen, creates a special dynamic. Unlike other online options, which can feel impersonal and disconnected, classes over video chat help build relationships and increase learning.
Teachers get real-time feedback from learners through video, audio and text-based chat. This allows them to adjust instructional approaches to best suit the learners they have in class that day. And youngsters can participate in live discussions with other kids around the world, from the comfort of their own homes.
The international group of learners adds an exciting twist, too.
Michelle Hall, whose children do full-time child-led learning through Outschool, has noticed the incredible benefit the international group of learners has on her kids.
“They establish strong and lasting friendships through these classes with kids they may never actually see in person,” says Michelle. “They are socializing with kids their own age, kids that are a year outside of their age range, and they are establishing long friendships. They’re learning how to communicate.”
Michelle’s children have developed real friendships with their Outschool classmates. The family lives in a small town in Florida, and there have even been talks of an “in real life” meetup of Outschool friends at—you guessed it—Disney world.
There’s a growing community of curious teachers who have found financial and professional freedom. They’re teaching classes on their own schedule about topics they love. With the freedom to teach what and how they want, they tap into a love of learning that spreads to the youngsters they reach around the world. If you’d like to explore the benefits of teaching on Outschool, start here.
Getting started on Outschool is easy, requiring only an application and a background check. After that, teachers can begin creating class listings and welcome learners from around the world. Teachers set the prices, schedule and duration of classes. Outschool takes a percentage of enrollment fees in exchange for the following services:
- Beautiful online website for class listings
- Full access to our community of learners
- Secure online payments
- Integrated video chat and messaging
- Responsive support via chat, email or phone