Monday, April 13, 2020

Announcement: Now Teaching on Outschool

Hi there! Long time no chat, on this blog, that is! If you've been following along with #TheAwkardLifeOfDawn (first of all, thanks!) then you might be here to see my announcement; that I am now teaching on Outschool! At the time of this posting, it is still Covid-19 Quarantine, and for some reason, the State of Ohio or my former employer, not sure which, contested my right to unemployment. I honestly have never been able to sort out what happened, and I needed to figure something else out. Outschool was something I'd already been contemplating, so I went for it.

AND I LOVE IT.

If you're not familiar with it, it is an online school for any child under 18 and there is just this WHOLE WORLD of possible classes you can take, round the clock, from some of the world's most fascinating and talented teachers. Anything your child could imagine that they might like to learn is on Outschool. And if you don't find the exact thing, you can request it. You meet via a secure online classroom for live sessions that are video recorded to ensure your child's safety. They also have flexible scheduling where you can learn via pre recorded lessons, but sill interact with the teacher. 

You can view a complete listing of my current art classes available HERE. I also will soon be offering creative writing. I am doing mostly one time classes right now so that parents don't have to coordinate schedules far into the future, but starting in the fall, I will conduct full semester length classes. 

You might also be here as a person who is curious about maybe teaching on Outschool yourself. So, I'm just going to post a little bit about my experience there, and what I think is important to be successful as an Outschool teacher. 

Teaching on Outschool is probably not for everybody, but a certain combination of attributes make some people a perfect fit. 

1. Flexibility: Since Outschool has students all over the world, it is good to be able to offer a variety of hours so you can reach a variety of students. 

Also, it is good to be flexible in how you perceive your relationship with Outschool. You are not an employee, you are a contracted worker. Therefore, they will deduct a fee from your pay, and you will still need to handle paying your own taxes. Additionally, some people get frustrated because it's not like a regular work place where if you run into a problem or need help, you can go to your boss's office and ask. They have a help desk, but to be really successful, it helps to be a self starter and to be able to take initiative to put out some fires on your own. 

On the flip side of that coin, even though you are a contractor, Outschool is placing the care of children into your hands. They can and will show up to audit your classes and this is one hundred percent to protect children and also make sure they are consistently doing their part to offer kids a robust learning experience. Outschool teachers want to be respected like brick and mortar teachers, so please be gracious when you are audited and don't take it personally. Child safety comes first, always, always, always. 

2. Creativity: If you are a successful Outschool contractor, you're not just a teacher, you're a brand. Some marketing abilities are valuable. You will need to have the creativity to present your content in a way that makes you stand out and appeal to Outschool's audience. Outschool does provide marketing as part of the fees they charge, but sometimes people don't feel their content is getting adequate marketing because their classes don't fill, while the classes of some other teachers fill as soon as they're available. If that's the case, your content might need work, or it might just not be appealing to Outschoolers. Don't be afraid to change it up. I went a completely different route than I initially planned with my courses! Be fluid. Try new things. Go out on a limb.

3. Tech skills: The technology involved can be a little overwhelming. Practice it A LOT. Especially since you will need to manage your class, behavior, and technology all at the same time. Take advantage of all the resources Outschool offers to familiarize yourself with the classroom routine so that you can plan your course content accordingly. 

4. Thick Skin: On Outschool, you teach to reviews. I have already watched a lot of people struggle with this. I am coming into this with the unique perspective of having been both a classroom teacher and a published author. My experience as a brick and mortar teacher has sadly taught me that people can and will make false accusations. My experience as an author has taught me to never ever ever ever ever respond to reviews. Ever. ESPECIALLY bad ones. ESPECIALLY BAD ONES THAT ARE LIES! If someone already made up a random lie about you on the Internet, what then do you think their reaction will be when you confront them about it? For the most part though, bad reviews really are just constructive feedback that shouldn't be taken personally. The ability to either accept constructive criticism or discard harmful criticism is an incredibly important concept we all try to teach our children, so we need to also nurture that skill within ourselves. 

Teaching to reviews is weird, but be confident in what you're teaching, love those kiddos, and do your best, and I promise, you will do just fine. 

5. Organization: This is probably the most important skill you should bring to Outschool. Just like a brick and mortar school, everything you do here will operate on a strict schedule. Unlike a b and m though, YOU will be the one who is 100% in charge of making up that schedule. Do your best to be there for your students! Also, there will be significant preparation involved in both creating your courses, and then preparing and finishing each class experience. Without proper organization skills, Outschool will take over your life, confuse you, and frustrate you. 

6. Prior experience with kids: On Outschool, you will be working with real kids. Classroom and behavior management can be tricky in person, so in an online environment it is even harder to both manage all the normal things that happen with kids AND the tech AND keep your lesson moving. If you've scheduled class for a half hour, you need to finish in that time, because the learners may have a class they need to get to directly after yours. If you have no knowledge or experience of what to expect from kids in a classroom, this experience may be a little frustrating to you!

So, that's it in a nutshell, what *I think* may help you be a success on Outschool. If you'd like to give it a try, click HERE.