How I make online teaching work as a high school educator

I have been teaching at traditional and charter schools for the past 18 years, and I remain encouraged by the determination of the students I serve, even when faced with the challenges we’ve seen over the past several years due to the pandemic.

It’s a humbling experience to be a part of their academic journey, knowing that in some way I played a role in their success. To provide positive and meaningful experiences for students makes me feel honored to be an educator.

Like many of my peers, however, the onset of COVID-19 showed me it was time to make changes in my career and put my needs first after nearly 20 years in the profession. I’ve always had a passion for traveling, exploring other cultures, and learning new things—part of the reason why I became a teacher.

Five years ago, I moved from my hometown of Lansing to Sweden, where I met my husband, a fellow adventure enthusiast. Since then, traveling has been a major part of our lives, though I quickly learned how challenging it can be to balance this passion and my career as an educator.

Teachers having the summer off is a misconception. Many times, summer break is spent putting together lesson plans for the next school year, prepping the classroom, attending professional development opportunities, and more.

When the pandemic hit and schools across the country shifted to virtual, I saw an opportunity to make a change that would support my career and love for traveling. I found Great Lakes Learning Academy, an online school serving students grades 6-12, and joined the team in 2020. At Great Lakes Learning Academy, I teach in a fully virtual format, which allows me the flexibility to live out two of my lifelong passions: teaching and traveling.

Great Lakes Learning Academy has opened my eyes to a new world, both literally and figuratively, as I am currently enjoying the beautiful views Turkey has to offer from my work desk. This summer, my family packed its bags and moved to Turkey for two months to introduce my two-year-old daughter, Ruby, to her grandparents for the first time. From across the world, I am teaching students in Michigan a full schedule of virtual classes, including pre-calculus and algebra 2. Teaching summer courses in addition to the traditional school year is a full-time job, but the fact that I can travel internationally and introduce my daughter to new cultures, all while continuing to work closely with students and having an impact on their academic, social and emotional growth, is incredible.

The past three years working at an online school have shown me that it’s possible to have a rewarding career while still following your personal dreams. For fellow educators who have an itch to experience something new, consider teaching at an online school as your next adventure.

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