Parents often question if online learning is right for their middle school students. After all, they are in front of a screen (again), and it does not have the same feel as a traditional classroom. I can sympathize with those concerns, but online education provides immense benefits that we often overlook.
Here are benefits to consider when deciding if online education is right for your student.
The Exposure to Diversity is Unparalleled
In 2020, when I began teaching online, I taught students in 13 countries. Most of my students live in the US, but I have taught students from Sudan, Brazil, Taiwan, South Korea, South Africa, Mozambique, Germany, Greece, and New Zealand (among others). Typically, 45% of my students identify as people of color.
Additionally, students have a variety of learning differences. I have likely taught as many students with a label of “gifted” as I have kids diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. I’ve taught students who could read the assigned book in one evening and kids struggling with severe dyslexia. Although this may seem like a difficult balancing act in a classroom, this diversity actually helps all students. They learn that everyone is different, and we all have struggles.
In my experience, learners are unlikely to find such significant diversity in their other educational settings, and this leads students to share their experiences in a larger context. Conversations have included everything from sports traditions to refugee situations. Yes, they learn English and social studies, but they also learn about one another and gain new perspectives.
Ultimately, online education builds empathy. I would argue that those lessons are more important than any academic content.
Teachers are Passionate Experts
Self-employed teachers typically teach because they love it. Being a self-employed educator requires a leap of faith and optimism that one can make money and change lives simultaneously. There is no safety net, so teachers must believe in what they are teaching. Nevertheless, the freedom to create an individualized curriculum is incredible, and I know that my chosen book and writing assignments have taught my students much more than they would have learned in a traditional classroom with standardized curriculum.
Students Receive Individualized Learning
Although there are exceptions, many educators teach smaller classes online than is required in US public schools. Public school classrooms often contain 15-32 students; my classes typically have 4-7. The level of attention and feedback I can provide students allows them to improve their understanding, and I have very few classroom management issues. Families do not worry that their students will be distracted or distracting; when there are only a few students, they tend to pay attention and appreciate the attention paid to them.
Less Bullying; More Accepting
My students occasionally write persuasive essays on the pros and cons of instituting a dress code at in-person schools. Most of us know the two sides: self-expression versus ridicule. However, that question is moot in an online education environment. Students barely see each other’s sleeves, let alone the brands of their clothes, and the small classes allow students to know one another as whole people, rather than simply by their looks.
Students have discussed their gender identities, medical diagnoses, and previous learning challenges with me alone and with students in the class. I have even had students change their names or pronouns during a semester, and the only reactions I experienced were those of empathy. Questions are respectful, especially when a student tells their peers that they rarely share personal information. (In a particularly memorable class, a 12-year-old cancer survivor related her story to an emotionally difficult book.)
Additionally, although students sometimes disagree during discussions (especially my 8th graders), I have never had a student bully another student. There has never been name calling, insults, or even rude jokes. By spending significant time with the same students, and under the watchful eye of a respected teacher, bullying is not even considered as an option.
Teachers and Students Form Lasting Bonds
This is my fourth semester teaching some of my students. One specific group I met at the beginning of fifth grade, and they will soon enter seventh. It would be nearly impossible for me to nurture that type of relationship with students in a conventional setting.
Students I’ve tutored for two years have had nearly 300 sessions with me, and I am able to watch their progress–and tweak my curriculum to help them most. There are families with whom I have developed close working relationships. I have even had some families ask me to stay with them the next time I travel! Although I certainly had bonds with my public school teachers–and was even able to have some for multiple semesters–there are few opportunities in modern US classrooms for students, teachers, and families to create the types of connections I have with my online learners.
The Ethical Environment Makes Teachers Happy
Sure, there are plenty of online teachers who are miserable and cranky, and wonderful in-person teachers who are lively and engaging. However, if you are considering MyCoolClass specifically, you’re likely to find happy, relaxed educators because of the platform on which they have chosen to teach. Speaking as someone who has taught for an online education company valued at over $1 billion USD, coming to MyCoolClass was a breath of fresh air. I didn’t even realize how suffocated I had felt until I became a teacher on the platform.
MyCoolClass takes a lower commission than any platform I’ve found, and certainly lower than my previous platform. It allows teachers to use their judgment in creating the best classes, rather than following rigid regulations, which are often only imposed to reduce liability for the corporation. Teachers are given the flexibility and autonomy of independent contractors, whilst still being respected as members of the cooperative.
Families can feel good knowing that the majority of the fee they pay goes directly to the teacher, and that they are supporting a company that strives to give back to the global community. There is an opportunity to teach kids that helping a small business, entrepreneurs, and those collaborating harmoniously is likely to make a greater impact than using services managed by large corporations.
Personally, I believe that cooperative teaching is the future of online education, and that it will ultimately result in a better experience for students, regardless of age.
Online education isn’t right for everyone, and I would never pressure a parent to choose an online class over in-person. However, online classes do provide unique opportunities for learners and the chance to form long-lasting relationships with the educators. Students can feel accepted, respected, and appreciated. Furthermore, taking classes on MCC specifically may help families feel they are supporting a greater good.
Consider browsing teacher profiles, registering for a demo, or contacting MCC administrators with additional questions. We’ll be happy to have you, and your students, as part of the community.