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Easter Around the World: From Bonfires to Crime Novels

Easter Around the World: From Bonfires to Crime Novels

Easter is just around the corner, and you know what that means: it’s time to get your egg-hunting gear ready and prepare for a feast fit for a king! But did you know that Easter traditions vary greatly around the world? It’s not all eggs in the basket! From really wacky to wonderful, here are some of the most interesting Easter traditions from around the globe.

Norway observes a tradition called “Påskekrim” where people read crime novels during the Easter holiday. Apparently, the crime genre is so popular during this time that even milk cartons and chocolate eggs come with a crime story printed on them. Talk about a murder mystery-themed Easter! (All hail Agatha Christie!)

In Brazil, they have a tradition called “Queima do Judas” where life-sized dolls representing Judas Iscariot are built, the disciple who betrayed Jesus and then burnt it in a public square. It’s a way of symbolically punishing Judas for his betrayal. 

People in Finland light bonfires on Easter Day to ward off witches who are believed to fly around on broomsticks and cause mischief. Harry Potter is not amused, but muggles sure are! 

Bulgarians engage in a tradition called “kravajnane” which involves cracking hard-boiled eggs with each other. The person with the last uncracked egg is believed to have good luck for the entire year. 

And of course, there are the more mainstream traditions like dyeing and decorating Easter eggs, having a big Easter feast with family and friends, and attending religious services. Whatever your Easter traditions may be, we wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Easter! 

Online Teachers Are Seriously Getting Ripped Off

The online learning industry is expected to be valued at $1 trillion by 2028. Venture capitalists are making record breaking profits, often 40% to 60% returns on their investments, while exploiting the labor of online teachers and ripping off students.

It should come to no surprise that many of these investors, such as Hoxton Ventures who financed Preply, have also backed companies such as Deliveroo, who have been embattled with lawsuits in multiple countries for labor exploitation and unfair algorithms. There is also Coatue and Tiger Global, two colossal hedge funds that dumped $75 million into Outschool in April of last year and another $110 million in October. Coatue has amassed a good chunk of its wealth backing Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, whereas Tiger Global has had large stakes in Amazon, Meta, Airbnb, Shopify, and Spotify. All of these companies have horrible reputations regarding labor rights. They’re rich from ripping off workers.

Angel investors and up-and-coming hedge funds are dumping their money into the hundreds of other start-up online learning platforms, many with the goal of making a quick profit before letting the business crash and burn leaving teachers choking in the smoke.

Working on these platforms is not sustainable nor equitable for teachers as companies maximize their profits by oversaturating their marketplace and spreading students thin. This ensures that teachers pay a higher commission, such as what Preply does. Teachers used to rant and rave about Outschool until they drastically scaled from 1,000 to 10,000 teachers over the past two years. While Outschool is seeing major profits, teachers are earning a lot less due to oversaturation and having to spend a lot more time marketing themselves while still paying a 30% commission.  

None of these companies, nor the investors backing them care about education. They do not care about students. They don’t care about teachers.

These companies don’t owe teachers anything. No rights. No voice. No job security. They can have secret algorithms, discriminatory marketing and hiring practices, shadow block your profile, or even delete your account without reason. These companies have zero accountability to anyone.

Because of this, many teachers are going solo, which has left a vacuum for snakes to plague the industry with “how to be a successful freelance teacher” schemes, often costing a lot of money for subpar training that can easily be found for free on YouTube. Anyone that claims to be able to teach you how to run ads on Facebook or Google in a few hours is a fraud, and any digital marketer would say the same thing. Even as a freelancer, how much money do you actually make per hour after factoring in other expenses such as lesson planning, administrative tasks, tools, and time (or money) marketing?

As a freelance teacher, one must ‘stand out’ among the crowd. This really just looks like a pack of hyenas fighting over a single carcass while the lions are already full and happy. Instead of trying to push ourselves up by pushing others down, online teachers need to come together to be able to gain some authority and power in an industry where selling our labor is the sole reason these businesses survive in the first place.

Online teachers are getting ripped off, and we are sick of it. We have been completely left out of the discussion about what happens in our industry. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of professional online educators around the world being exploited by people and corporations that don’t care about us.

Lawmakers and labor groups are focused on providing more rights for Uber, DoorDash, and Deliveroo workers, but there has not been a peep about how online teachers are victims of wage theft, discrimination, and unethical business practices. This needs to change and online teachers need to be seen as a professional community with common needs and aspirations.

As more platform workers become increasingly dissatisfied with their working conditions, there is a powerful movement of worker cooperatives restoring democracy and bringing equity back to working people. After years of unstable pay, unsustainable work, and getting ripped off, online teachers are fed up and it is time to organize.

MyCoolClass Co-operative is the first and only online learning platform collectively owned by our members in 25+ countries. No venture capital. No hedge funds. Just teachers that came together to build a platform that works for teachers and our students. We are only as strong as our members and right now we are building an army of teachers who want something better.

Imagine if Etsy was owned by artists and creators? Through platform cooperatives, a better, fairer, and equitable workplace is possible for independent workers. The Drivers Cooperative has 8,000 drivers competing against Uber and Lyft in New York City and is looking to branch out to 8 more US cities in the near future. Fairmondo is a German ecommerce platform cooperative, like eBay but collectively owned by the sellers. Stocksy is a platform for photographers who sell stock photos, like Shutterstock or Adobe. Launching soon is PlatformX, a freelancer-owned hybrid cooperative similar to Upwork.

If you’re an online teacher and ready for something better, MyCoolClass is the place for you.
We’re looking for active teachers and supporters who will help spread the news about our co-op so we can grow.

Ready to join us? Learn more about membership and apply here.

Watch a full presentation about MyCoolClass explaining the nuts and bolts of how we work.

Support MyCoolClass by sharing this blog with your family and friends.

It’s time to organize.

5 Useful Props for Improving Your TEFL Classes

5 Useful Props for Improving Your TEFL Classes

Making lessons more interesting and interactive is a constant goal of every teacher I know. Despite the wide range of online tools and teaching materials available, props are probably the most common way of doing this. The good thing about props in TEFL classes is that they can be used even when technology is not cooperating. Many teaching props are very versatile and having a selection of things within reach while we’re teaching can enable us to add fun and spontaneity to our lessons. We all know that we should have a whiteboard and some puppets or soft toys to hand when we teach, but we also have our own favourite additions. Here are five of my favourites. 

Use of Paper dolls in TEFL classes

Discussing the doll’s clothing can be a useful lead-in to the lesson’s topic because it provides context clues, which helps to overcome any remaining language barriers. For example, if asked where a paper doll wearing shorts and a T-shirt is going, the student will likely guess summer outings like the beach. They’ll know it is unlikely that the doll is going skiing, so the lead-in to the lesson’s topic can be more of a discussion. 

Paper dolls can also be used to teach about body parts, clothes and describing appearances. Another fun activity is using paper dolls to act out or write a story. 

Coloured pens


These are particularly useful props because they’re often close to hand when you suddenly need to demonstrate or practice a concept. In addition to being useful for teaching numbers and colours, they can help explain verbs like falling, holding and throwing. 

Coloured pens can also be used to teach determiners and prepositions in TEFL classes. They can be counted or placed in/on/next to something like a cup, for example

Use of Picture books in TEFL classes


Picture books can help teach verbs like reading and holding. They also contain useful vocabulary. Story books can be a fun way of introducing and reviewing sentence structure. Books for even younger children are useful for teaching colours, fruit and animal names. 

In addition to being used for teaching, picture books can also be fun to read at the start or end of classes.

 

Flashcards


Flashcards are helpful props for drilling concepts but they can also be used for games. You can give your students a quick glimpse of a flashcard and as them to guess what it is or not look at the flashcard and guess what it is (with clues from your student) yourself. You could even deliberately guess the wrong thing to make the lesson a bit more fun and interactive in TEFL classes.

Shaker


Shakers are a nice option for teaching pronunciation and fluency in TEFL Classes. You can use a shaker to demonstrate the number of syllables or the stressed syllables. If you’re teaching lessons on poetry, a shaker can be a helpful way of demonstrating the correct rhythm. You can also experiment with different stresses and rhythms to add a playful element to your classes.

What’s in it for Me? – How a Teacher Cooperative can Benefit its Members

What’s in it for Me? – How a Teacher Cooperative can Benefit its Members

We all have our barometer to measure success in the workplace. Many of us are content to show up, perform our duties, and collect our wages, leaving the headaches to management. Then there are those of us who like to have some say in how things work, who want to have our hands firmly on the steering wheel. Still, there is a middle ground, where you can go about your day-to-day, without the pressures of managing a business, yet, have a say when it comes to how the business is run. If the 3rd option sounds good to you, perhaps a worker cooperative is what you’ve been looking for.

So, what exactly is a worker cooperative, and how can teachers benefit from one? Here are a few points to help you understand a teacher cooperative and why they very well may be the future of business.

 

Member Control

Cooperative members have a say in how the business is run and who runs it. Each member carries a voting share equal to any other member of the co-op. Regardless of the distribution of equity shares the co-op has issued, when it comes to voting each member holds a solitary vote. When it is time to elect a board of directors one member can’t swoop in with his or her majority stake and install their preferred candidate to ensure the profits keep rolling into their account without consideration to how the workers themselves are affected.

Of course, every detail of the company is not put to a vote. Some decisions must be made on the spot for any business to operate efficiently. It would be absurd to think that a vote should take place every time a department considered any initiative. Therefore, the board of directors is democratically selected by the members. The board can make the decisions that may be deemed beyond the capacity of a single department. This way, the needs of the members are represented without a limited number of owners or investors dismissing the needs of those that make the co-op successful to line their own pockets.

 

A Support Structure for Members

One of the 7 principles of the cooperative model is ‘’education, training and information”. This means that a cooperative has a responsibility to provide its members with adequate resources to assure members can best contribute to their cooperative, hence increasing the chance of success for the community. Whether it be information on how the cooperative operates in general or the necessary tools a member needs to be successful within the sector that the co-op does business, there is a support structure in place to help both the individual and the cooperative thrive.

 

Profits and Compensation

With a cooperative no silent investors are waiting in the wings, dictating how the company operates and hoarding surpluses to the detriment of workers. While it is possible to acquire capital from outside sources, the return on such investments is limited. The old way of slashing benefits, wages, and employees to maximize profits is left out of the equation. In a cooperative model, the money left over after business is conducted can be utilized in a manner which the cooperative community sees fit. Members can choose whether to roll that money back into the co-op to enhance the business or distribute said cash to the members as dividends. This allows said money to benefit those that earned it by putting it back into their communities, where it does the most good.

 

By Us, For Us

The work within a cooperative is performed by its members. Through collaboration on both new and existing projects members can contribute to the betterment of the co-op community. The idea is to utilize the talents and resources of the owners/members to feed the business. By limiting the use of outside contractors, costs are kept in line, and more cash flow can remain within the cooperative. Everybody wins…Except those that just wish to profit from others’ labor. Instead, that profit is returned to those that produced it.

 

These are just a few of the advantages of forming worker cooperatives. By putting the power back in the hands of those that make a business run the sky is truly the limit.

So, why have we chosen this model for MyCoolClass.com?

Shortly after starting their journeys into online teaching, co-founders John Hayes and Scott Anderson quickly realized that this industry is wrought with social injustice. Teachers are discriminated against due to where they were born, among other factors. They are penalized financially for situations that are often out of their control. The idea of any type of benefit coming from an employer is simply unheard of. No sick leave, vacation allowance, maternity leave… NOTHING. The only extra many of these online platforms offer is the fear of waking up to a message that you are no longer employed. No explanation, no recourse for teachers, nothing. Just a devastating kick to the gut, leaving capable, hardworking teachers wondering where their next paycheck will come from.

We hope that we can build this cooperative to remedy these injustices for as many teachers as possible and that others might follow our lead. We have no desire to monopolize this industry. Nothing would please us more than to find that our cooperative’s hard work set off an explosion of change in how online platforms treat their workers, benefiting not only teachers but their students and communities alike.

Read more about our vision at coop.mycoolclass.com and join the #TeacherRevolt today!

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