Online teaching is hard. I don’t know anyone who does it well who thinks that it’s easier than teaching in person.
But there is a lot to love. Here are a few:
1. Your students will open up in ways that they cannot in a face-to-face class. Without worrying about how they look or how their peers look at them, they will share vulnerably with their classmates. And without having to come to your office where they fear they might break into tears, they’ll open up to you more, too.
2. Your quieter students will shine because they get time to think before they speak.
3. Your dominant students will learn to listen better, as they hear the fascinating insights of their quieter peers.
4. You will learn to be very clear with your words. This may happen after a few painful interactions where you weren’t, but, in the long run, it’s a gift.
5. You’ll be teaching students who love where they live. I don’t just mean that they like it. I mean that they are committed to it, in loving ways, which is why they are staying where they are.
6. You’ll support students who are heroes. Every fall, my students who are EMTs, nurses, rescue workers, and FEMA workers are deployed to hurricane-hit areas. It’s a privilege to get to support them.
7. You’ll get photos of babies born in the middle of your semester!
8. You’ll be the person they ask for letters of recommendation as they prepare for life after college because you’ll know them so well!
Above, detail from The Tyranny of a Teacher is Better than the Love of a Father, Mahmud Muzahhib, circa 1560.
Re “This may happen after a few painful interactions where you weren’t, but, in the long run, it’s a gift”: George Cain, one of my professors at Georgia Tech, once said: “Never do anything ‘for the first time’.” This does not mean “Never try anything new”, but rather that the first time you do something, you’re bound to make all kinds of mistakes (Murphy’s Law). Prepare, and learn from your mistakes.
Improvisation isn’t something that just musicians do. Keeping the show running while something falls apart on you is a very important ability to develop.