HOW TO “MAKE IT” AS AN ONLINE TEACHER
Out of this post came a revelation: Most teachers I know have some type of part-time job. Can you imagine a doctor or a lawyer working part-time at a restaurant? Can you imagine an engineer cutting lawns and landscaping for extra cash? Can you imagine an accountant working as a bartender on the side to make ends meet?Yet, this is what we see in education. I’m not alone. Many of my fellow teachers work extra jobs to make ends meet.
However, times are changing. The people of the internet have spoken. They want to be able to learn online, from experts, on their own time, and at their own pace. Who is best qualified to teach the billions of people online? Teachers of course. However, anyone with a specific skill that they have mastered and can share (also known as a teacher), can “make it” as an online teacher.
It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter who you know. The only thing that matters is what you know.
Teach What You Know
The first step in teaching anything is to understand what you know. For instance, I know a lot about coaching (I’ve coached 2 teams for a combined 12 seasons), SAT Prep (I’ve tutored over 50 students on the SAT in the past 7 years), and course design (I’ve written curriculum and designed many courses in the past few years).
However, when I took a look at what online course I wanted to build, I was all over the place. First I thought about teaching WordPress. Then I wanted to teach a course on writing. Then I thought I would switch over to something else… I’m someone who has a ton of different interests and therefore I know a good amount about a few topics…but I failed to look at what I knew in depth for my first course.
Find a Mentor (or at least a role model)
If you want to “make it” as an online teacher, you need to learn from those people who are doing it right now. With the changing landscape of teaching online, it’s good to have a few role models and people you can ask about what they are doing.
Progress Every Day
Thinking about becoming an online teacher and creating your own courses can be daunting at times. But you need to commit to progress every day. Maybe you are really excited in the beginning and then as life takes over you lose that momentum. Instead, focus on creating 1-2 short videos a day. It will only take 30 minutes of your time, but in a month you’ll have almost 60 videos complete. That could be a whole course, or the start of a very big course.
Don’t Worry About Being Perfect
You cannot worry about getting everything perfect. It’s also boring if every video is perfect and you never mess up a word or have to repeat yourself. People want to learn from people…not machines. Loosen up in front of the camera, or behind your screen recording and talk like you! Be you, and don’t worry about being perfect.
Ship It and Spread the Word
At some point, you have to say, “this is good enough” and publish it. You may make some tweaks after getting some feedback, but you have to ship your course.
You don’t need to be “salesy”, instead you just need to be excited. People want to learn from someone who is excited about what they are teaching. Trust me, this is the best way to engage students and any audience. Your excitement will drive their excitement. And in turn, it will also help spread the word and get more people to sign up for your course.
Be There for Your Students
It may be easy to just sit back and let your course go after publishing it. But that won’t get your repeat students. You want to be present for your students that have questions in your course.Udemy let’s you set up live classes as well that you can broadcast out to your students (past and present). Use these types of events to engage with your students and be there for them.
You’ll also want to have a presence on social media. While social media won’t necessarily drive students to your course (despite what other “experts” have said) it will give your students a forum to connect with you in a much more personal way. Use social media in that way, and your students will be happy to spread the word.
In the end, being a successful online teacher is about taking the time to do it right, but also continually learning. If I’ve learned anything from Phil and other online teachers, it’s that the future is bright for those of us that have something to share…as long as we get out there and share it.
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