I keep seeing all these teacher videos where everybody is so happy about teaching online and all I need to do is click the referral link. Is it really that great? What are some of the real honest drawbacks and disadvantages of teaching online? It can’t be as awesome as everybody makes it out to be. Maybe I’m just being a little cynical. However, I would love to hear back from teachers who have been teaching online for a while.
Although there are plenty of benefits of teaching online, there are a few drawbacks as well. There are some areas where teaching in a classroom setting is more beneficial than teaching online. We are going to look at a few of those reasons below.
You Have To Control Your Own Destiny
Yes, of course, everyone likes to say how much they want to be in control of their own destiny. In reality, many human beings prefer the safety and comfort of the job when they are told what to do and when to do it. This can be seen in a regular classroom setting where you receive feedback from the school district on your teaching methods.
You have an opportunity to compare your teaching methods with your fellow teachers. None of this happens when you are teaching on your own. Well, this is not completely true due to the advent of Facebook groups we can share different teaching methods and so forth. If you do choose to become an online teacher, I definitely recommend that you do find one or two good Facebook groups are teachers are supporting other teachers.
One such group is The Online Teachers Bar and Grill and another one is The Online ESL Teachers Support Group. We also run a reviews group and a jobs group. Granted, some of the groups you get involved with are simply places for people to spam referral link after referral link for jobs that promise a higher salary than what they deliver. That is just me being cynical, or stating a fact, and you can be the judge by joining a few groups.
You’ll find that some of the schools do a great job of training teachers while others seem to go through a couple of my classes and then give you free reign. It seems like the longer the school has been around the better the training experience will be.
Fluctuations In Salary
When teaching online one of the difficult things for people get used to is the fluctuation that can happen when it comes to making money. Learning about the various holidays around the world, and other times when students are not around can be a steep learning curve for some or simple one for those who are willing to do a little research.
If you decide to build your own website and find your own students, you might run into a feast or famine environment when you first start your adventure. Being your own boss is great, but with anything that is worth having, it can be hard going in the beginning. If you take this route, you really should have some money stored away or be teaching on another platform while you build your student base.
Another unfortunate trend with online teaching is with schools that promise to pay a certain amount and in the end offer you less than advertised. They will tell you as well that if you just stay with them for a certain number of months you will get a raise. Yes, there are schools that are honest and true to what they say, but there are other schools headed in the other direction. Being cautious in doing your research will help you to avoid these pitfalls.
You should also take into consideration how you’re getting paid. PayPal, for instance, takes a fair amount of fees out of your salary. Another issue with it is how it does not offer the fair value when switching from USD to other currencies. This something else for you to look out for and understand when you venture into the world of online teaching.
The Marketplace Continues To Grow And So Does The Competition
While the internet’s popularity serves many purposes and is the leading way that many freelance workers make their living, you must take into consideration that people all around the world are doing the same thing. This can lead to lower salaries and competition with people who are living in lower-cost environments.
People that live in countries where English is not the native language can charge incredibly low prices for their work. Some of these prices can be as low as $2-3 per hour. Most people that live in a country where English is the native language simply cannot compete with those rates.
Having your own website in teaching platform will help you to get a decent rate as long as you are good at what you do and know how to market yourself. There are also plenty of websites out there that will pay more for a native English speaker from Western countries.
The secret to turning a big profit online is to differentiate yourself from your competitors online. If you offer something different from everyone else, the students will come to you. You need to find your niche basically. Many people find this through test preparation, specific types of training, and pronunciation, just to name a few.
The fluctuation in pay can be difficult when you first start out. To fill in the gaps before you have a full schedule I suggest that you get a job working on phone apps. There is one teacher named Camden that is so good at working off his iPhone that he makes a full-time living teaching ESL online while traveling. You can read about him here.
You really need to find a way to stay motivated while teaching online. This can be hard if you find yourself teaching the same lessons over and over again. Put up some motivational images or posters in your work space. Be humble and grateful that you are able to make a living while working from home.
Here is a classic:
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