When I first thought about teaching online I had no clue.
There was the idea, alright. But not an inkling of doability.
So, for lack of better alternatives I started sending out applications.
In the meantime I continued my daily commute, waiting for answers.
Day by day went by without bringing an answer.
What was I doing wrong?
Maybe my CV wasn’t good enough! Maybe I should have written in a different style? Maybe I should have capitalized more on this and that?
Little did I know that the online world did not follow the same rules and regulations of the offline world.
When Revelation Comes Knocking
To make a long story short: I did eventually receive two replies by people who were genuinely interested in hiring me. Luckily, I didn’t start working for either because of various reasons, among them ridiculous rates per hour.
I say luckily because this experience forced me to change my attitude.
And this was about the only thing that was wrong with my applications: I shouldn’t have even written them in the first place! For what I was trying to achieve, the endless iterations of my schooling and “special abilities” were as pointless as a fish trying to become wet.
Here’s why it’s so weird:
In the offline world, if you want to teach somewhere, you have to write an application letter to a school. They supply a building, schedules, books and of course – students.
Then they check if you match the requirements, interview you, maybe give you a trial round of teaching and if they give you the stamp of approval you’re in.
Now, since I’ve been teaching online, noone has ever asked me about my qualifications.
It’s funny, isn’t it?
Yes, I worked for many years in private schools. Yes, I did many years of jumping through hoops in university called teacher-training and barking on command in exam after exam.
But the people who should have cared about it in the end (the students), simply didn’t. I can only guess what people really want in a teacher and it seems to me that it’s a) the feeling of somehow being understood, acknowledged or listened to and b) the trust (!) that the teacher’s method will lead to the desired result
No Schools, Different Rules
This leads me to the next question: If the students, your clients so to speak, aren’t interested in your quantifiable certificates, then for whom are you doing it?
In an offline setting the obvious answer is: To get a job. Gotta get your foot into the door, first.
But in an online environment you don’t even need a school.
- There’s no need for a building
- There’s no need for (physical) books
- No need for secretaries and other non-teaching staff
And if you don’t need the permission of a school for starting to teach you don’t need the permission of anyone.
There is of course the question: How to “get” students? How to connect to clients? But as I explained here: “We’re living in age of social and informational abundance. You don’t need somebody to connect you to clients or students when you have the whole World Wide Web at your disposal!”
Crooks And Certificates
Teaching is not something for experts only, although we have managed to turn it into something very academic and lofty.
No, teaching simply means sharing knowledge in a skillful way.
You don’t learn this in university’s teacher training. I’ve been there. And some people don’t even get it after years of teaching.
There are, in fact, laypersons like retired people who are a hundred times more knowledgeable and skilled in their ways of transmitting knowledge than the certified teacher fresh out of college.
A popular argument against the idea of “Anyone can teach” is that: “Yeah, but how do I know that the so-called teacher is competent? Maybe he’s teaching me stuff that’s simply wrong!?”
While that is an obvious concern it neither addresses the fact that there are many certified teachers going about their daily business who are either lacking in social skill or haven’t updated their knowledge for years.
In any case, teaching online you don’t need to please a school or board with your papers.
Here, the only one that you need to convince of your abilities is the student and yourself.
How you do this and whether you are qualified according to some arbitrary standards is something entirely different.
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