What it’s really like to be an online teacher

What It’s Really Like to Be An Online Teacher (feat. Amy Smith from Michigan Virtual)
Meet Amy Smith, recognized as the Michigan Virtual 2020 Online Teacher of the Year, who shares her honest insights into a day-in-the-life of an online teacher, how it compares to face-to-face teaching, and what advice she has for those who are new to teaching in an online environment.
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. . .Or listen instead on Apple, Spotify, Google, or another platform.

This past year, many teachers got a taste of online teaching for the first time. But while some liked having the ability to work from home, many others expressed a deep longing to be back in the classroom with their students. One teacher described the transition as moving from “teaching in 3D” to “teaching in 2D.” 

But the truth is that the way seasoned online learning institutions conduct their virtual classrooms looks quite different from what many teachers and students experienced during “emergency remote teaching.” 

This week on the BRIGHT podcast, I chat with Amy Smith, a French and health teacher for Michigan Virtual, who was recognized as our 2020 Online Teacher of the Year

Amy shares her honest insights into:

  • A day-in-the-life of an online teacher
  • How it compares to face-to-face teaching
  • Three types of students she’s seen thrive in online learning, and
  • What advice she has for those new to teaching online 

Another nugget of wisdom from Amy came up after our interview:

“There is an idea I didn’t express fully in our talk. That idea is that simplicity isn’t being lazy; in fact, I think it’s the opposite. Often, these two things can be confused, that busyness or doing a lot of things means we’re being effective, but I’ve found that having the discipline to focus on fewer things allows for being more present in those things, and, therefore, more effective. 

In terms of teaching, this concept can be applied in many ways. So many teachers are stretched thin, and it can be very hard to say ‘no’ to doing more, but, in fact, concentrating on fewer things but at a deeper level may be just what teachers and students need. When a teacher is focused and present, students notice that and are invited to be focused and present. So, often, less really is more.”

You can listen to our conversation using the audio player above or read the transcript.

Here’s a sneak peek at our conversation:

Related resources 

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Nikki Herta

Nikki Herta

Nikki’s love for writing, editing and pedagogy brought her to Michigan Virtual as their Content Creator/Editor. A Michigan native, she studied writing at Grand Valley State University before continuing on to the University of Minnesota for her master’s degree. While there, she also taught first-year writing to college freshman. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, playing table-top board games, and curling up in front of the fireplace with a good book and her sassy, ancient cat, Princess Eugene.

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Limited Course Capacity

We’re sorry to inform you that we have reached capacity for several of our Semester 1 and Trimester 1 courses. You’ll notice when attempting to enroll students in our Student Learning Portal that some courses are unavailable. While we are no longer accepting new enrollments for these courses at this time, many courses continue to remain open for enrollment.

With many students across the state 100% remote, demand for our online courses is greater than ever before. Because every course we offer is taught by a Michigan-certified teacher, this high volume of enrollments has created capacity issues for our teachers who provide each and every student with individual feedback.

While the Michigan Virtual team anticipated and planned for significant increases in student enrollments this Fall, the increased demand we’ve experienced has been unprecedented. As a result, we are taking steps to hire even more part-and full-time teachers to support larger numbers of student enrollments for Semester 2 as well as for Trimester 2 and 3. 

For schools that still need online learning options this year, please fill out the form at the bottom of our virtual pathways page to meet with someone to discuss other solutions. While some of our teacher-led courses are full, we may still have the capacity to help you in upcoming terms or can discuss timing to implement a whole-school or collaborative program in which local teachers from your school/district use our online course content to teach students. We also have free course content and resources available for you to use.

We know this is an incredibly stressful time for all, and we’re sorry if the courses you’re looking for are unavailable. We never want to turn away a student who wants to learn from us. Our top concern, however, is student success, and we have a policy to not take on additional enrollments if we cannot guarantee that all students will have a quality online learning experience. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the unusually high volume of enrollments we are receiving.