This is the Remote Teaching Survival List for online ESL teachers all over the world. Freedom and flexibility away from the traditional office setting is an essential aspect of establishing an essence of comfort aligned with your own vision. However, remote life can be a bit complicated for those engaging in live online teaching lessons as there is an element of interaction that requires stable Internet and reliability. Below are some tips for aspiring online teachers to initiate a true remote lifestyle while traveling.
If you are working for an online company, it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. If you are a good employee the company may be more accommodating to your situation but asking beforehand may be dissuade you from ever taking the plunge. The reason for this is most companies don’t want to risk a mishap and are looking out for the incentives of the organization rather than you (for the most part). Furthermore, when it comes to the online teaching market – technical fluidity is one of the most valued assets along with the skill sets of the employee themselves. It is better to prove to them that you are able to execute effective classes while traveling and demonstrate it first-hand. Online teachers need to start looking after themselves within reason to create a stable work-life balance with TRUE flexibility. A lot of online instructors turn their house into the very office they wished to escape which defeats the purpose of even pursuing work online – They move their work office into their homes and only benefit from the non-commute aspects.
NOTE* Pursue a trial run of traveling to a new location while taking time off from work to ensure confidence in the process.
For example, I had a “Create-your-own” profile on the side that I used to teach classes and I took time off from my primary online teaching job to try it out from a remote location without any sort of hazard to my primary employment.
There is a considerable amount of risk when traveling while teaching. Some of these risks include: Unstable Internet connection, inadequate teaching environments, forgetting items while traveling, logistics etc.
Firstly, make sure you are able to obtain adequate Internet while you are traveling by researching internet options applicable to the country or location you are visiting. Bring an ethernet cable wherever you go as well – This will be your savior to combat fluctuating Wifi connections.
Call hotels ahead of time to ensure the stableness of their connection – Email is a great way to do this, so they can send you the analytics of the connection itself. Look at hotel arrangements beforehand including the dynamics of the living space to guarantee there are no noise problems and a suitable environment.
Create a checklist of all necessary items needed to teach including props, hardware, and technology. Another avenue is to download supplemental software to use so that you can eradicate any tangible items used during class and lighten your travel load. For instance, I have a virtual background that I utilize to teach my students that fit the shape of my wall anywhere I go and provides a digital environment conducive to teaching.
Always bring extras of things in case anything breaks. Headphones and Ethernet cables endure a considerable amount of wear-and-tear over the months/years of teaching. You want to double up on all of these items in case they break or do not function properly.
3g and 4g are not allowed but this will be in the case of emergency situations. Always have a plan B to fall back on as well and most companies will appreciate that you were at least proactive. You can also contact HR beforehand to have a company colleague take over in the case of any problems and vice versa. That way you can cover for their shifts if they ever take time off and they have your back in case of an emergency. This is a hard negotiation but effective if presented correctly.
Make sure the country you are traveling to does not have any impedance on the websites you are using. For example, China has heavy restrictions on some websites that are readily available in the US and uses Baidu instead of Google.
Bring universal adapters as well so that you do not blow out any sockets and can fit chargers in different outlets across the world.
Important tip – It is essential to juggle multiple companies as well because most online companies are part time (If they don’t pick schedules with fewer hours for each). As stated before, traveling while teaching is a risk, so if you are penalized severely there will be other companies to fall back on for income. To reduce this impact pick up any extra shifts readily available and work your butt off in case problems do arise – That way you are in a better position to negotiate as you have put in your sacrifice with the company. Another strategy is to take legitimate time off with a company you do not want to jeopardize your status with and continue to fine-tune your teaching while acquiring travel/teaching experience with a company of less priority. This is why I like the “Create-Your-Own” profile websites like iTalki that have fewer restrictions and requirements for online teaching.
The ideal solution is to build your own student base as you gain experience from multiple companies and not have to answer to anyone. This establishes true flexibility and an environment beneficial to an authentic remote lifestyle in the teaching realm. (Check out the article on Independent Online Teaching – Cut Out the Middle Man)
Here a few companies to get started with”
Have any other recommendations for online teaching while abroad? Please post in the comments below.