Recruitment and Retention of Online Teachers

Published on May 18, 2022
Written By: 

Ed Timke, Ph.D.Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute


Kristen DeBruler, Ph.D.Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute

Demand for online education has been on the rise for years and will only continue to increase, but will there be enough professionals willing to teach online given the broader declines in teacher recruitment and retention? What keeps online teachers from staying in their jobs? What keeps people from becoming online teachers in the first place? And what has been done and can be done to address these concerns? This study examines the recruitment and retention of online teachers with an eye toward effective practices in averting a shortage of online teachers.

Suggested Citation

Timke, E. & DeBruler, K. (2022). Recruitment and Retention of Online Teachers. Michigan Virtual University.


We would like to thank Cindy Hamblin, Executive Director of the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA), for her help in conducting this research project. We are grateful to all the VLLA members who took time to participate in this study to share their experiences and advice. We hope the following report and resources help provide strategies to recruit, support, and retain online teachers.

Introduction and Need for Study

According to data collected from a 2021 Launch Michigan educator survey, two out of three Michigan educators would not recommend education as a career field (Launch Michigan, n.d.). In a recent MVLRI study on Michigan teachers and administrators’ social and emotional needs, nearly two-thirds of teachers surveyed considered leaving their jobs during the 2020-21 academic year (Timke & DeBruler, 2021). Such findings do not signal an enthusiastic and optimistic outlook among teachers about their jobs and the future of education in Michigan and beyond. 

Layered on top of these alarming concerns are the tremendous pressures that have been placed on teachers to shift to online teaching during emergency remote instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for online education has been on the rise for years and will only continue to increase (Tamm, 2022), but will there be enough professionals willing to teach online given the broader declines in teacher recruitment and retention? What keeps online teachers from staying in their jobs? What keeps people from becoming online teachers in the first place? And what has been done and can be done to address these concerns? This study examines the recruitment and retention of online teachers with an eye toward effective practices in averting a shortage of online teachers.

This study builds off of the work of Dr. Kathryn Kennedy, who, in 2015, collaborated with the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA) to complete a cross-case analysis of digital learning programs’ teacher recruitment, hiring, training, support, evaluation, and retention (Kennedy, 2015). The resulting report featured case studies for each of the eight VLLA member programs that participated in Dr. Kennedy’s study. At the start of each case study, key features of the program were highlighted. An analysis of the cases highlighting similarities and differences is presented at the end of the report. This new research report builds on that work and examines recruitment and retention practices through the lens of educators’ social and emotional well-being. 

Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA) 

Originally founded in 2009 as the State Virtual Learning Alliance, the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance is a national association of virtual learning programs across the United States. Its mission is “to strengthen online learning through leadership, advocacy, expertise, and professional relationships” (Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance, 2022). It consists largely of state virtual schools serving K-12 students. The VLLA represents 19 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin). During the 2020-21 school year, VLLA members had 876,048 semester enrollments. During the 2020-21 school year, VLLA members had 876,048 semester enrollments. Among the 20 VLLA members, 16 hire their own teachers.

Because of the important role this organization plays in sharing expertise and experiences related to virtual learning programs, the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute (MVLRI) research team partnered with the VLLA for this study to better understand the dynamics of recruiting and retaining online teachers.

Figure 1. States represented by the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA).

Map of the United States showing states highlighted if they have a Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance member. The states highlighted include Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.

Figure 2. Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA) members.

A collage of logos for the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance members.

Research Questions 

Several research questions grounded this study:

  1. What is the state of online teacher recruitment and retention among state-level online programs?
  2. What are the challenges of recruiting online teachers to state-level online programs? What are effective strategies to overcome these challenges?
  3. What are the challenges of retaining online teachers in state-level online programs? What are effective strategies to overcome these challenges?
  4. What are some of the challenges new online teachers face in state-level online programs? What are effective strategies to help them overcome these challenges?


To answer this study’s research questions, Qualtrics’ online survey software was used to collect data from VLLA member organization representatives who are involved with the recruitment and retention of online teachers. Member organizations were contacted through email with information on how to participate in this study. Using a variety of open- and closed-ended questions, the survey asked participants to provide the following detailed information about their organization:

  • general faculty data (number of faculty and experience of faculty)
  • trends in recruitment and retention
  • effective strategies in recruiting and retaining online teachers
  • challenges in recruiting and retaining online teachers
  • new teacher orientation
  • support offered to teachers, including social and emotional support 

Thirty-five responses were received from 15 of the 16 VLLA members that hire teachers for their programs.

This report is structured in four main sections. Recruitment and retention will be discussed in turn, with a focus on challenges and effective practices identified by VLLA representatives for each. The report will conclude with a summary of practical implications and final thoughts on how to best move forward with the recruitment and retention of online teachers. 


In the last 2 years, many VLLA members noted a significant increase in the hiring of online teachers, largely due to the rising demand for online learning options during the COVID-19 pandemic. A few noted stable hiring or modest increases (about 20-30%), but most indicated significant increases in hiring from two to six times the number of instructors compared to previous years. Such large numbers bode well for online teaching opportunities in the short term, but there is uncertainty about what will happen once COVID-19 stabilizes. Therefore, despite VLLA members’ success in hiring online teachers in the last 2 years, they provide some important insights into challenges and effective practices that should be considered in implementing sustainable recruitment strategies in the long term.


The most common recruitment challenge noted was the structure of many online teaching programs. Many respondents noted that most positions are part-time or hired on an adjunct basis. Some administrators had the impression that many teachers are not applying to work for VLLA programs because teaching part-time for them would add more to their already significant workloads, as detailed by one participant: “For part-time positions, teachers are thoroughly exhausted from all the challenges in their ‘regular’ full-time teaching position and do not want to seek additional work outside of their regular school day.” Additionally, some program administrators noted that having enough student enrollments to support regular positions is a significant challenge.

As noted in Table 1, respondents reported what they considered to be the top three challenges of recruiting online teachers. Beyond the issue of part-time versus full-time positions, the top responses clustered around three other important topics. The first centers on compensation and benefits. VLLA representatives reported non-competitive compensation packages (54%) and private retirement plans that aren’t compatible with public teacher pension systems (20%) being major concerns in recruiting online teachers. The second challenge is only having openings in specialized teaching areas that are difficult to fill, such as special education, foreign languages, science, and technology (57%). The third challenge is that online teaching programs were thought to be less well-known among prospective teachers looking for work (20%).

When respondents provided open responses about recruitment challenges, they cited online teaching being seen as less rigorous than face-to-face teaching and online teaching being associated with emergency remote learning. Such impressions indicate a need to make sure the general public and prospective online teachers see the value and rigor of online learning programs.

Top Three Challenges of Recruiting Online TeachersCountPercent
We only offer part-time positions and applicants want to work full time2674%
We only have openings in specialized teaching areas that are very difficult to fill (e.g., special education, foreign languages, science, technology, etc.)2057%
My program’s compensation packages (e.g., salary and benefits, yearly “step” raises, etc.) are not as competitive as other programs1954%
My program is not well known among potential teachers looking for jobs720%
Incompatibility with state employee retirement systems720%
Applicants are apprehensive to work in a remote environment away from students617%
My program’s calendar deviates from standard academic year calendars514%
Teaching online is perceived to be less prestigious than teaching in person39%
Other (respondent-provided responses): online teaching is seen as less rigorous than face-to-face teaching, online teaching is associated with emergency remote learning, unstable or fluctuating enrollments/schedules, technical knowledge/expertise requirements, exhaustion from regular day jobs and inability to take on additional part-time work, small talent pool for certified teachers1234%
Table 1. The Top Three Challenges of Recruiting Online Teachers.

Effective Practices 

Virtual programs noted that they had the most success recruiting new part-time and full-time teachers through existing networks. Programs reported using social media, well-known job posting sites, and job boards specific to educational professionals in their state. Ultimately, programs reported that they preferred and most often found success through word-of-mouth and alerting current staff to openings and requesting recommendations. As one VLLA representative noted, “We encourage our present teachers to recommend their outstanding teacher friends. We seem to get the best teachers this way.” Being a recommended employer of choice requires building and maintaining a strong and positive working culture and offering support that helps teachers meet their social and emotional needs. Or, as one VLLA administrator succinctly summarized, “We notify all current teachers and principals when we have openings so they can help share the word. We also work really hard at making the culture of our organization a place people want to be.”

Having structured orientation programs is another strategy that builds a positive, supportive culture. A vast majority of the programs that responded indicated having a required training and orientation process for new online teachers. Some programs reported that this process experienced significant upheaval during the past 2 school years in direct response to the sheer number of teachers being hired and onboarded—one program noted going from “40 to 900 full-time students overnight.” 

The most common format for the required online orientation is a dual approach of providing information and instruction about online teaching in general as well as instruction on the specific learning management system (LMS), state requirements, instructional approach and expectations, policies, and procedures of the virtual program. Orientations are typically asynchronous and self-paced but are required to be completed before being assigned any student enrollments. In many programs, during the orientation process or shortly thereafter, new online teachers are assigned a mentor or coach—an experienced online teacher to help guide them through onboarding and throughout their first semester or year of teaching with the virtual program. A full account of new teacher orientation and onboarding processes of the VLLA schools can be found in Recruiting, Training, Supporting, and Evaluating Online Teachers: A Cross-Case Analysis of Teaching Infrastructure Across Virtual Schools. 

We encourage our present teachers to recommend their outstanding teacher friends. We seem to get the best teachers this way.

VLLA Administrator


Recruiting online teachers is only half the battle in running a stable online learning program. Implementing effective retention strategies is vital to making sure online teachers want to remain in their jobs. If there is a continuous attrition of online teachers, programs risk losing talented teachers with significant institutional knowledge and strong online teaching skills. There is also the actual costs of needing to recruit, hire, and train new teachers. According to the National School Boards Association (2019), it costs $10,000 on average to hire new teachers in rural areas and roughly $20,000 in urban areas. Such costs are significant for any school or education program given already limited budgets and resources. Therefore, VLLA members were called upon to help identify challenges and effective strategies in retaining online teachers.


There are many challenges in retaining online teachers. To best understand them, VLLA representatives provided insights into general retention challenges faced by all online teachers. They also provided their observations about the challenges new online teachers face, which can be significant factors in keeping new online teachers in their jobs.

General Retention Challenges

The most common challenges reported by virtual programs in the last 2 academic years (2020-21 and 2021-22) were quite evenly split between challenges specific to students and those specific to teachers. Programs reported significant challenges with students who were enrolled in online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These students may not have been ready for online learning or may not have been provided the local school-level support necessary for learning online. Programs mentioned that a large number of enrollments came from students who were missing the necessary wrap-around support. As a result, these programs were considering developing support models specific to this type of enrollment in the future. 

From the teacher side, challenges included filling positions requiring specific state certifications. Additionally, programs were challenged to hire, train, and prepare large numbers of teachers prior to the start of the school year. One program reported looking for ways to expedite the training while still providing the necessary preparation for new online teachers. Finally, as with many schools during the last 2 years, programs sought ways to ease some of the burden and reduce the workload on teachers. 

To understand how to retain online teachers, it is important to track the reasons for teachers leaving and target these areas accordingly. VLLA administrators indicated what they perceived as the top three reasons why online teachers left their jobs in the last 2 years: not offering full-time, permanent positions (63%); teachers having too many responsibilities and a lack of work-life balance (54%); and non-competitive compensation packages (49%). Others included limited opportunities for advancement (31%); preferring in-person teaching over online teaching (29%); and not having enough control over courses and content they teach (20%). Clearly, there is an opportunity for online programs to examine their compensation and job advancement structures, workload requirements for teachers, and ability to make online teaching enjoyable and rewarding for teachers.

Administrator Perceptions on Reasons Why Online Teachers Have LeftCountPercent
My program could not offer a full-time, permanent position2263%
Teachers felt like there were too many job responsibilities and a lack of work-life balance1954%
My program was unable to provide competitive compensation packages (e.g., salary and benefits, yearly “step” raises, etc.)1749%
Teachers felt there were limited opportunities for advancement1131%
Teachers did not enjoy teaching online; in-person teaching is preferable1029%
Teachers did not have sufficient control over the courses or content they teach720%
Teachers found jobs in a related field outside of education514%
Teachers did not feel a sense of belonging in a school community39%
Teachers did not feel a sense of connection with students26%
Teachers did not feel supported to teach using online technologies00%
Other (respondent-provided responses): retirements, problems with transitioning to new technology, exhaustion, too demanding of job, more accountability and rigorous evaluation, unstable enrollments926%
Table 2. Administrator Perceptions on Why Online Teachers Have Left.

Challenges for New Online Teachers

As noted in a recent MVLRI blog on teacher recruitment and retention, approximately 10% of new teachers do not stay in their jobs past the first year; 44% of teachers leave within 5 years of service (Timke, 2021). Thus, identifying the most significant challenges faced by new online teachers (especially those certified for the first time) could help mitigate the loss of valuable teaching talent. 

The top five challenges for new online teachers, as reported by VLLA administrators, revolved around two key themes: adapting teaching to online environments and keeping up with workloads. Related to adapting teaching to online environments, 60% cited motivating students to engage in class activities being difficult. Forty percent reported that they thought learning a new learning management system (LMS) was especially challenging for new online teachers. Twenty percent felt that new online teachers found it difficult to provide feedback to students. Concerning workloads, 51% of respondents feel that keeping up with all the work/tasks required to teach online was challenging. Related to this point, finding work-life balance was cited by 26% as a key problem area for new online teachers. 

All of these challenges indicate that online education programs should assist new online teachers with strategies to use their expertise in teaching and learning to develop competencies specific to online instruction. Moreover, it is necessary for online education programs to provide resources and support mechanisms focused on managing workloads and striking the right balance between professional and personal responsibilities.

Administrator Perceptions of Challenges for New Online TeachersCountPercent
Motivating students to engage in class activities2160%
Keeping up with all the work/tasks required to teach online1851%
Learning a new learning management system (LMS)1440%
Finding work-life balance (e.g., blending of work and home life)926%
Providing feedback to students720%
Feeling connected to their colleagues617%
Feeling connected with their students617%
Communicating with student parents/guardians/caregivers617%
Getting students to feel connected with one another514%
Adapting in-person learning activities and strategies to teach in digital learning environments411%
Interpreting students’ emotional and affective states online39%
Reading students’ non-verbal cues online26%
Keeping track of students’ progress26%
Feeling connected with the school’s community13%
Developing/recording asynchronous learning materials00%
Other (respondent-provided response): learning new programs and systems13%
Table 3. Administrator Perceptions of Challenges for New Online Teachers.

Effective Practices 

When analyzing effective retention strategies, several themes emerged: general retention practices, efforts to fight isolation and burnout, and the need to provide relevant social and emotional supports that aren’t burdensome to teachers. Each of these themes will be detailed in turn.

General Effective Retention Practices

Virtual programs reported using a number of strategies to encourage retention of their teaching staff, and frequently noted several strategies that worked in conjunction with one another to provide support for teachers and create an environment where teachers wanted to work. Among the most commonly reported practices were logistical policies such as being able to work anywhere there is a stable internet connection, ensuring a minimum number of enrollments and base pay, and opportunities to increase pay through teaching additional course sections. There were also professional practices such as providing new teachers with mentors, coaches, or guides during their first year; coordinating communities of practice; and (among the most common) offering professional development opportunities focused on teacher growth and leadership. 

One participant commented that because of emergency remote teaching, some prospective online teachers may think they’re experts in online teaching, but they face challenges when they teach primarily online: “A new challenge is that all teachers now consider themselves having experience teaching online due to emergency remote teaching. That experience may not be a valid reflection of our expectations for online learning.” This observation is important because some teachers may underestimate the efforts required to teach effectively online and overestimate their abilities to adjust their in-person teaching practices to online environments. Setting realistic expectations and offering adequate support to teach online are essential.

Retention Practices Focused on Social and Emotional Supports

Virtual programs reported using social and emotional well-being practices such as reaching out frequently to teachers to solicit feedback and offer support. They also noted that they work to develop a supportive culture in which teachers feel valued, appreciated, and supported. Programs also mentioned including teachers in the programmatic change process by seeking their feedback and suggestions for growth.

Almost all participants (97%) agreed with the statement Providing social and emotional supports to online teachers helps retain them in their jobs. The most common reason for agreeing was that learners would suffer if teachers aren’t supported. As one respondent summarized: “If teachers’ emotional state is not supported, then they emotionally cannot support their students in their learning and social needs.” Another VLLA member made a similar statement, but focused on the connection between teachers’ and students’ mental health: “I think [social and emotional support] helps keep them sane and able to balance home and the hard job they are doing. If they are not healthy, they can’t be there for their learners.” Or, as one administrator aptly noted, “You cannot pour from an empty cup. This is true for teaching as well.”

You cannot pour from an empty cup. This is true for teaching as well.

VLLA Administrator
Need to Fight Isolation and Burnout

Some administrators noted that efforts should focus on making online teachers feel more appreciated and supported because working online can feel isolating. Isolation is especially a concern for new online teachers, as one respondent emphasized: “If new teachers do not receive support, they experience the ‘lone ranger’ syndrome where they feel they do not have access to people within the organization for help.” 

Others noted that teaching is a caring profession, and without providing resources to help teachers cope with a variety of stressors, they will only burnout, which is a detriment to the field: “Teachers are hard-wired to work themselves to burnout. We have to help them invest in themselves so they can continue to invest in their students. For many teachers, they may not be receiving this investment from their f2f [face-to-face] school or other places. So this is a critical investment in retention.” 

Another administrator responded similarly: “Teacher burnout is real, and with the current state of educational politics, teachers need to feel valued and supported in all aspects of their professional and personal life. Teachers don’t quit teaching, they quit situations—so if we are able to support them socially and emotionally, we are more likely to retain them.”

One respondent connected teachers’ well-being to better relationships with students and families: “Teachers will burn out faster if they are not feeling supported or connected to the program mission. Respect for an online teacher’s social and emotional well-being is critical. Healthy, happy online teachers—just like classroom teachers—are better communicators with students and families.” 

Teachers are hard-wired to work themselves to burnout. We have to help them invest in themselves so they can continue to invest in their students.

VLLA Administrator
Need for Relevant Social Emotional Supports that Aren’t Burdensome

Study participants cautioned how and what social and emotional supports are provided. Some worried about placing additional burdens and pressures on teachers to pursue “self-care.” One administrator made it clear that any social and emotional supports should not add to teachers’ workloads: “[Teachers] are frustrated by the ‘self-care’ movement in that unless there are responsibilities removed, asking them to find time for themselves is fruitless. Providing actual time in the schedule for actual self-care is valued but attending a PD [professional development] on self-care only adds to the burden they carry. Teachers value flexibility that comes with remote teaching but it doesn’t mean the stress is reduced.” 

Additionally, supports should be relevant and genuine: “It is important for educational institutions to recognize their teachers as human beings, especially during times of high stress and demands. I think any efforts towards providing any support are laudable and important. I only answered ‘agree’ here because I’ve seen a lot of efforts that were in the name of providing support for teachers but didn’t seem genuine or effective.” Another administrator importantly emphasized that supports also need to be tailored to teachers’ needs as online instructors: “There are some situations where the emotional and social supports are not what teachers need, particularly if they are pressed for time and are not feeling adept at the online model.”

Almost all VLLA members found providing social and emotional supports make jobs more enjoyable, help teachers feel more appreciated, reduce feelings of isolation, and create communities of support. In the end, social and emotional supports were argued to increase teachers’ ability to bring their best selves to contribute to a school’s vision and purpose, as one participant succinctly summarized: “People, in general, need to know that they are cared for before they can commit to a cause or mission of any organization.”

[Teachers] are frustrated by the ‘self-care’ movement in that unless there are responsibilities removed, asking them to find time for themselves is fruitless. Providing actual time in the schedule for actual self-care is valued but attending a PD [professional development] on self-care only adds to the burden they carry. Teachers value flexibility that comes with remote teaching but it doesn’t mean the stress is reduced.

VLLA Administrator
Social and Emotional Supports Offered by VLLA Members

Although providing social and emotional support was deemed essential to teacher recruitment and retention, only 35% of respondents indicated that their programs offer online teachers such resources. As detailed in Table 4, the most frequently noted supports provided are teacher coaches and mentors, professional learning opportunities, making sure teachers know their voices matter and are valued, and instructional lead teachers providing advice and resources. Other notable supports include building community. Some indicated providing free counseling programs and time off for mental health, which are noteworthy given that most online teacher positions for these programs are part-time and likely not eligible for benefits.

Social and Emotional Supports ProvidedCountPercentage
Coaches who mentor teachers867%
Professional learning758%
Make teachers know that their voices matter and are valued650%
Instructional lead teachers542%
Regular check-in meetings for teachers to get to know each other, collaborate, and/or support one another433%
People available to listen (open door policy)325%
Free assistance and counseling programs217%
Time off for mental health and other needs217%
Private social networking service for communication217%
Offer health and wellness information/tips regularly217%
Advocate for teachers18%
Academic support instructors/specialists available18%
Health and wellness organizational interest group open to all18%
Instructional observation and advice18%
Open and honest communication18%
Offer resources already provided through partners/school district18%
Solicit feedback from teachers regularly18%
Virtual staff lounge with SEL resources18%
Offer wellness and mindfulness opportunities/experiences18%
Table 4. Social and Emotional Supports Some VLLA Members Provided Teachers.


Based on VLLA members’ feedback, several practical implications emerged for more effective recruitment and retention of online teachers, which are detailed below.

Provide Secure Positions 

Many VLLA members noted that they do not offer permanent, full-time positions, which they thought would be more attractive to many teachers. Therefore, it is necessary to think of creative models to offer more full-time positions, which would attract and retain online teachers. Moreover, it is necessary to closely study how compensation packages, including retirement planning, for online teachers compare to in-person teachers; providing comparable or better compensation may help recruit and retain online teachers more effectively.

Help Online Teachers Balance Responsibilities 

Participants in this study noted that online teachers need help balancing their large amount of work, especially in using new digital teaching tools. Moreover, because online teachers typically work from home, they may need help creating boundaries between their work and personal responsibilities. Professional learning opportunities and tools focused on ways to streamline work and achieve work-life balance may lead to increased satisfaction teaching online. Regular meetings where teachers share strategies to balance their work would help build a community of practice, too.

Find Ways to Develop a Strong Working Culture Where Teachers Feel Appreciated and Connected to a Community of Practice 

Because it was reported that online teaching can feel isolating at times, it would be beneficial to design ways for online teachers to socialize, build community, and share resources. Online learning programs should focus on ways to build a strong and supportive working culture where all teachers can contribute, grow, and bring their full selves to the work that they do. Mentoring and lead instructor programs can help achieve this goal while building a community of practice among new and veteran online teachers. In the end, VLLA members reported that word-of-mouth is one of the most effective recruitment strategies, so creating a strong working culture where online teachers enjoy what they do and who they work with is more likely to attract quality online teachers.

Support Teachers’ Social and Emotional Well-Being

Nearly all participants in this study agreed with the idea that social and emotional support is linked to teacher recruitment and retention. Many voiced concerns that students and programs suffer when teachers are unable to meet their own social and emotional needs. Programs should conduct climate surveys of teachers about their social and emotional well-being as well as the relevant supports desired to prevent teacher burnout. However, caution should be made to solicit teacher feedback as a regular component of existing communication structures rather than an add-on. Programs need to provide individualized tools but also think about systemic or program-wide changes that encourage teachers’ social and emotional well-being (for a discussion of this topic, see the recent MVLRI blog Importance of Distinguishing Systemic from Individual Barriers and Solutions).  


The demand for online teachers will only grow as digital learning expands, but online education programs need to be deliberate in their recruitment and retention strategies. Online teaching can sometimes feel isolating for teachers, so efforts should be made to build community and show support for teachers. Also, online education programs should recognize that teachers are looking for full-time positions, so to attract and retain high-quality online teachers, programs may have to offer more full-time or stable teaching positions. Having permanent, full-time online teachers can help retain institutional knowledge and minimize the time, energy, and resources required to constantly replace and train part-time teachers. 

Lastly, it is essential to regularly assess the challenges online teachers face in their jobs from the time they are hired. Teachers’ social and emotional needs should be a central focus of all recruitment, development, and retention strategies. Building a community of trust by checking in frequently with online teachers about how well (or not) they feel they are supported would help meet these goals. Understanding online teachers’ needs shows a commitment to investing in them and valuing their significant contributions, which will only fuel students’ success and the longevity of online education programs.


Kennedy, K. (2015). Recruiting, training, supporting, and evaluating online teachers: A cross-case analysis of teaching infrastructure across virtual schools. Michigan Virtual University. 

Launch Michigan. (n.d.). Research.  

National School Boards Association. (2019, October 1). Teacher retention: A growing problem.  

Tamm, S. (2022, January 7). 100 essential e-Learning statistics for 2022.

Timke, E. (2021, August 17). Teacher recruitment and retention: A snapshot of an ongoing crisis. Michigan Virtual University.  

Timke, E. (2022, January 31). Time for teachers: Importance of distinguishing systemic from individual barriers and solutions. Michigan Virtual University. 

Timke, E. & DeBruler, K. (2021). “It’s just too much”: Meeting the social and emotional needs of Michigan educators. Michigan Virtual University.

Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance. (2022, January 24). About.

Table of Contents

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.