5 Ways Teaching Online Changed My Life

Author: Kristen Basore is an online and in-classroom educator; teaching music & theatre. Outside of traditional education, Kristen is a working singer, musician, and actress across the world. She has performed internationally with both Carnival Cruise Lines and Walt Disney Studios. Most recently, she played the title role in Disney’s Mary Poppins at the historic Palace Theatre. Follow Kristen on Instagram @Kristens.Classroom or on YouTube at www.youtube.com/kristensclassroom 

As a classroom teacher, I think it’s safe to say that 2020 was the year that rattled everything we knew about education. It felt like overnight we were moving our classrooms home, learning about online rubrics/ lesson plans, and having daily staff meetings over Zoom. Pre-pandemic, I had never once used Google Classroom or knew how to record class meetings for students. But through all this change and uncertainty – one thing remained constant, and surprisingly, changed my life more than I expected.

It was my side hustle of online teaching. And when I say online – I mean the sessions set up pre-pandemic and not the remote learning required by my district. Before March 13th, 2020, I was teaching 12-15 hours online for various companies before and after the standard school day. I had been doing this side hustle for 2 years before Covid-19 – mainly as a way to bring in additional income for my wedding, home renovations, or additional payments on our mortgage. When classroom teaching went remote in March, my entire work schedule shifted – except for the previously scheduled side hustle sessions. As time went on, I found that my side hustle schedule was the only remaining part of my pre-pandemic routine to remain constant. 

And now, over seven months later, I can say with certainty that online teaching has been one of the best things I’ve implemented into my life. This small side hustle has provided so much more than additional income, so today I want to share 5 Ways Teaching Online Changed My Life (in 2020 and beyond):

1- Financial Security: I mentioned that I’m a full-time classroom teacher, but I have yet to mention what subject I teach: Music. Any educator knows that when budget cuts and change come into a district, the first things to typically go are the arts. Sad as it is to say, that has become the expected ‘norm’ in this day and age.

So enter Covid-19, and it seemed like each week I was hearing from colleagues across the country that their positions had been furloughed or terminated. Admittedly, there was a period of time where I expected an email or call from my district telling me that my program was not expected to continue and that I would be out of a job.

Now, I’m not saying that I could have easily made up my salary through online work had my position been cut, but the fact that I had an additional income stream did provide a sense of financial security. From March 2020 until present day, I receive my online teaching payments, take out the allotted amount for taxes and split the rest 50/50. One half goes into my standard checking and the other half goes into my emergency fund. I will share further info on my savings plans for a future blog, but at present day, I have over 6 months of living expenses tucked into savings incase 2020 decides to throw any other surprises my way. Just keeping side income moving into that emergency fund has provided some much appreciated security. 

2 – A Steady Quarantine Schedule: Being a newlywed teacher told she has to not only move her classroom online, but also has to convert her guest bedroom into a shared office for two presented its own set of challenges. My husband works in IT (information technology), and pre-Covid, we had never needed to share a workspace – let alone spend almost all of our time at home in quarantine.

While my remote teaching schedule changed weekly as my district was setting up procedures, my husband’s schedule remained 9 AM-5 PM from home. This resulted in me moving my desk and teaching materials to the kitchen table to keep my zoom calls from disturbing my husband’s work.

This time was certainly an adjustment, but keeping my online tutoring on the calendar meant my days continued to begin and end at the same time. I was teaching 5:30 AM – 7:30 AM online before school and 7:30 PM – 9 PM at night.

Keeping these times scheduled each week has kept my productivity going throughout 2020. Regardless of my district’s remote classroom changes or the fact that my husband and I were not leaving the house for anything other than groceries, I knew when and how I would start and end each day.

Sometimes, it’s something as simple as a morning and evening routine to keep yourself focused. 

3 – New Skills To Learn: Starting the side hustle of online teaching required a lot of trial and error. When were the best times to teach? What supplies would I need? Is my internet speed fast enough? How would the students do in my class?

Over time, I learned the importance of keeping a calendar, taking graphic design courses to keep my lessons visually appealing, practicing my filming and editing skills, and putting together a portfolio of my online teaching experience.

If someone asked me what one skill I’d recommend to a new online teacher – I would say “Start small and don’t compare to others”. 

4 – The Chance To Meet New Students & Learners: Loneliness and isolation have been two big challenges in the 2020 quarantine. Teaching online has not only provided a steady schedule and ability to keep up with routines, it has also aided in keeping conversation. While I would not classify teaching as a social hour – the opportunity to speak with and carry on educational conversation has certainly aided in keeping quarantine interesting.

Side Note: Once my classroom job solidified our required zoom and planning hours, I was able to start adding daytime side hustle teaching availability. This helped me meet additional students and try teaching at different hours of the day. By the time my school year had ended, I was able to open more full-time summer availability and several spring learners continued to enroll in my classes.

5 – An Opportunity To Keep Passions Alive: I teach music and the performing arts – two things that have lost the little funding they had before Covid came into our lives.  The one blessing that quarantine/ remote teaching have brought me is the opportunity to keep my passion for the arts alive. Through online teaching, I’ve met thousands of students from all over the world. Several learners were able to share their own struggles of shows being cancelled, not being able to continue learning instruments, or losing the ability to attend live theatre.

While I’m sure the arts are not alone in the industries struggling in 2020, the ability to meet and connect with students around the world who share the same passion has been rewarding in itself. Over the summer, I was able to put together group music classes, script study, and voice over training courses for those wanting to continue to grow their skills in the performing arts. 

In conclusion: I would recommend anyone try their hand in teaching their passions and skills online. You never know who is searching for the expertise you have.

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