Most people, even teachers, don’t really think about online teaching and what it might entail. That’s why we’ve decided to show you what a day in the life of an online teacher looks like – how full or empty the schedule can be, or what you do when you don’t have a commute. Each day can look quite different, but we’ve tried to take an average one, so that it gives you a fair picture of the life of an online teacher.
This is a typical day for Chloe, a 29-year-old woman who began teaching online 11 months ago.
8 – 8.10 am I usually get up around 8am. My alarm goes off and I do a few stretches (not more than 5 mins but it wakes me up). I put the kettle on while I read my emails, seeing if any students are cancelling class at the last minute or if any other teachers need cover. I usually tie my hair up and throw some clothes on, but it’s great not worrying about what to wear or what looks pristine.
8.15 am I don’t normally eat breakfast this early, I prefer to do a class first. I prep for my first class, looking over any notes from the last class and making sure I have everything ready for my first student. I then log on to my laptop and adjust my webcam, so the student can see me.
8.30 am – 9 am I deliver my first class of the day to a student in Sapporo, Japan. He is nine hours ahead so this time is perfect for him, after he has finished school for the day. His English is pretty good, so we do a class on his hobbies and I assign him a piece to write about playing football.
9.15 am – 9.45 am It’s time for my second student who is pretty interested in climate change, so I’ve chosen an article on Greta Thunberg to discuss today. The student does well and learns some new words.
9.45 am – 10 am I have a bowl of cereal as I’m feeling a bit hungry now, it takes discipline not to eat all day when I’m working from home, but this is the first thing I’ve eaten today.
10am – 11am Two more classes, back-to-back. These two young ladies are in China, and they are complete opposites. One simply does English to pass exams, whereas the other girl is keen to travel and work abroad so her lesson goes much quicker.
11am – 11.30am I take a bit of a longer break now and have a coffee. I put a wash on and go around opening the windows in the house because it’s quite a warm Autumn day.
11.30am – 12.30 pm It’s time for a group class now. These are an energetic bunch but I can see them all on camera, so it’s much the same as being in a classroom in the sense that I can call one out if they are distracting the group. Today they are talking about veganism, and I’ve prepared an article and worksheet on meat-free burgers. They shout over each other with the answers, so it’s normally about controlling them and getting them to respect each other. I mainly listen in, correcting pronunciation. I then go over some common errors and how to correct them.
12.30 pm – 1.15 pm I have another break now so I start planning for another class tomorrow. Class planning normally takes me around 20 – 35 mins, depending on what the topic is. I use a number of different resources to help me plan. You can find plenty of interesting ways to approach a class online.
1.15 pm I call my next student on Skype, but he doesn’t answer. This is unusual for this student, but sometimes something has come up and they have forgotten to let me know. I send a message but it doesn’t show the student online, so I mark that down. The class will still be charged for, as it’s not me who hasn’t shown up.
1.30pm I prepare a feta salad for lunch. One of the things I love about working from home is that I don’t have to think about lunches too much ahead of time, or end up spending around £10 every day on it!
2.00 pm – 2.45 pm It’s time for another group session now. There are only four of them, but they are all quite reticent when it comes to speaking up, so I plan quite a few games for the start of the lesson to get them chatting. We always end on a game too.
2.45pm – 3.30 pm I go and pick my niece up from school and walk her to her after-school programme. I live near my sister and it saves her or her husband having to leave work to do this. It’s a nice little break in my day too – I get to see my niece and have a little walk! I do this three times a week.
3.45 pm – 4.15 pm It’s time for another lesson now, this student is in Qatar. He’s been learning English since he was quite young, but he needs extra help for exams, so we go over the bits of his coursework that he needs help with.
4.15 pm – 4.45 pm This is the time of day that I sometimes start to feel a little tired, especially if I haven’t been for a walk. I look for articles that may be of interest for my classes and make sure that I’m ready for my last lesson. I look over the notes I’ve taken earlier in the day too. I make notes during every class, as sometimes an idea will come to me about the next lesson, or I note something on one of the students so I don’t forget, as some lessons can be quite fast-moving.
4.45 pm – 5.30 pm I have a lesson now where the girl really needs to focus on her grammar. It’s been a problem for a while and I’ve looked for various ways to approach this. There are some great chat rooms online where I can contact other online teachers and share resources, so I’ve tweaked some worksheets they shared for this girl and we work through them together.
5.30 pm – 6.00 pm – Another break, where I prep dinner for this evening. My boyfriend’s coming over later, but now I have time to chop all the vegetables and open a bottle of red wine. I don’t drink any yet!
6.00 pm – 6.30 pm It’s my last lesson today. Two days a week I finish later, at 7.30 pm. This student is quite into world politics, and I’ve assigned him a book to read, so we have a discussion on that and then I set him some writing. We go through some of the meanings of words that he finds challenging.
6.30 pm – 7.15 pm That’s me finished for the day. I usually spend about another 35 – 45 minutes prepping for the next day, and then I jump in the shower, ready to spend my evening however I choose.
I should have had ten lessons today, but only had nine as one person wasn’t on the other end of the line. That’s about the amount I do every day.
My favourite thing about teaching online is the fact that I don’t have to go through a long commute, which I used to find really stressful. Also, I can pick and choose my hours. I like to do a pretty regular schedule, but I know some other online teachers who like to teach in the afternoon and evenings – they just choose a different part of the world. I know that if I want to change my schedule in three months, I can do that and it will work out fine.
If you’d like to know more about online teaching and how it could work for you, find out here.