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A Better Way to Teach Online

Online teacher exploitation has become a growing problem in recent years as learning platforms have sought to maximize their profits at the expense of educators. While these companies have made record-breaking profits, teachers often lack equity when working for them and have no say in how things are run. This has had an increasingly adverse effect on the quality of education, as well as on the pay and job security of teachers.

MyCoolClass is a revolutionary way for independent freelance educators to work together to deliver quality online education without exploitation. Unlike other learning platforms, MyCoolClass is owned collectively by its teachers which enables them to gain more control over their own teaching business and enjoy greater autonomy in terms of wages, schedule, how the company runs, and you can even accumulate paid time off. Furthermore, they get the support they need from a community of educators.

The main advantage of MyCoolClass over traditional online teaching platforms is that it can provide both financial security and personal satisfaction to its members. Unlike most online teaching companies who take a large portion of educator’s earnings and limit control over the process, MyCoolClass offers a fairer split with members receiving 81% of the total income generated from students. Additionally, with MyCoolClass members can structure their classes around their own interests which allows for more creativity within instruction and better engagement with students.

Since it is worker-owned rather than being controlled by venture capitalists or outside investors, there is greater job security—something that is often lacking in traditional online learning platforms where teachers can be replaced easily with little notice given due to lack of legal protection. And finally, because it is a co-operative model there is more collaboration between members leading to better quality instruction along with improved access to resources and technology that would be too expensive for individuals acting alone.

https://youtu.be/ChiZhIpu540

It’s clear that MyCoolClass offers many advantages over traditional online teaching companies in terms of financial security, autonomy in decision making, and increased control over one’s career trajectory. By enabling independent freelance educators to work together towards providing quality education free from exploitation, MyCoolClass not only helps create an equitable system but also offers an alternative approach towards delivering effective digital learning solutions worldwide.

Interested in reaching more students and taking your teaching career to the next level? Become a teacher member at MyCoolClass! Our growing platform is looking for talented teachers who want to make an impact. Click here to learn how you can join us today!

5 Summer Festival Ideas for ESL Lesson Plans

If you’re looking for inspiration for ESL lesson plans, it might be worth researching some popular seasonal festivals. Festival themed classes can allow you to change your lesson content or teaching style a little, celebrate another culture, or learn something important to your student. Here are five summer festivals to consider including in your ESL lesson plans.

Dragon Boat Festival

The most widely known part of this Chinese festival is the Dragon Boat Race, but a main theme of this festival is protection. Five animals – snakes, centipedes, scorpions, lizards, and toads – are believed to be protective and so are very important to this festival. Reading about or drawing these animals could be an enjoyable lesson. Playing Pictionary with one of these animals being the picture could be fun.

You could also watch a Dragon Boat Race with your student and then discuss what you have seen. You could use this to help your student practice verbs, describing people or talking about their feelings. Your student could even write a story, or a poem based on the Dragon Boat Race.

You can learn more about the Dragon Boat Festival and get some fun ideas here:
https://www.globetrottinkids.com/dragon-boat-festival/

Summer Solstice

The summer solstice is celebrated in some form by many cultures, so there is a good chance that your student will be familiar with it. You could read traditional stories about the sun to learn about different cultures and practice reading skills. Alternatively, you could learn about astronomy, summer insects or flowers. Another fun activity is to plan a picnic or garden party with your student.

The summer solstice is traditionally a time for setting goals for the future, so it is also a good chance to encourage your students to reflect on and share their learning goals.

You can learn more about the summer solstice and get some fun ideas here:
https://kidpillar.com/solstice-facts-activities-kids/

International Day of Friendship

Although this isn’t technically a festival, International Day of Friendship is a nice theme for classes for students of any age. Activities could include discussions about friendships, asking younger students to bring along and introduce their favourite toy or reading books about friendship.

You could even plan a special class that your student can invite friends to join. You can play games, read funny poems, or have an online party. It could help you get to know your student a little bit better and give both of you the chance to have fun together.

The Edinburgh Festival

Although the Edinburgh Festival isn’t traditional, it is a popular celebration of culture and the arts, making it the perfect inspiration for an online class. A fun activity would be to have a talent show, where your student can show off a skill they’ve been working on.

As comedy is a big part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, you could arrange for more playful ESL lessons encouraging your students to laugh about something they find difficult. For example, you could teach them a tongue twister using sounds they’re struggling to pronounce and laugh at yourself when you get it wrong. You could also read nonsense poems and try to draw pictures based on them.

La Tomatina

This interesting Spanish festival is a street party mixed with a food fight. It started in 1945 when people watching a parade got into an argument with some other people who didn’t want to take part. This took place near a market stall selling vegetables and the two groups started to throw tomatoes at each other, something local people repeated every year until it became one of Spain’s biggest festivals.

While it’s not practical to plan a food fight during your lesson, you could use this opportunity to talk about the significance of food in different cultures. Maybe your student could plan their perfect meal, or even their own festival.

Because this is a Spanish festival, you could also play Spanish music as a part of your ESL lesson plans. You could use the rhythm of the music to explore the rhythm of the English vocabulary and sentence structures you’re working on with your student.

Here are a few enjoyable activities you can do.
https://kidskonnect.com/holidays-seasons/la-tomatina/

Been There, Done That… but Not This!

It’s a funny, old business being a self-employed teacher. Especially in a foreign land. Especially online. Especially nowadays. I emigrated to Spain in 1992 and although I do other stuff like make videos, edit, write stories and play music, it is teaching that keeps the wolf from the door.
 
I’ve taught preschool toddlers, construction workers. bank executives, journalists, politicians, every kind of kid and even members of the Spanish Armed Forces. I’ve been a director of university language seminars, a director of residential immersion courses in fancy hotels and now I have my own business in the mountains of Madrid where I bring my methodless method to students who have been badly served by language academies.
 

I’ve been around the block a few times and I’ve learned a few things.

 

 
1.  Nobody gets what they deserve. Everybody gets what they negotiate.
 Teachers are talented professionals but, frankly, nobody cares. Very few private companies will pay their teachers well. They will demand CELTAS, DELTAS, and degrees but pay the same hourly rate as someone with an unskilled job.
 
You can get into the habit of accepting anything until you find yourself believing you are worthless. I’ve learned not to waste my time. If you get made a derisory offer, refuse it. Walk out. Check out materials writing. Find a niche. Keep looking.
 
 
2. TEFL is a shark magnet.
A lot of online TEFL companies are predators. Beware the ones who offer you an easy-to-get TEFL certificate. No employer worth their salt will take seriously a TEFL without proof of real classroom experience. The CELTA qualification is pretty much accepted everywhere and shows you are serious.
 
3. The best tool is empathy.
 The best thing about teaching, even after all these years, is the students. To help someone along the road to pass an exam or get a promotion is deeply satisfying. To do that well you need empathy. It is the one quality that all great teachers have; wherever they are from and whatever they teach. Understand what your students are feeling. What is good for one student will not work with another. Never ever let a methodology get in the way of good teaching. Be present in the here and now with your students.

 

4. Teachers are generous people.
 Teachers are by their very nature generous people. Teaching is one of the many shades of love. If you know stuff, share it with less experienced colleagues. If you need help, ask. Teachers enjoy sharing resources, creating new things with other teachers, and giving their opinions.
 
One thing which has pleasantly surprised me is the creation of MyCoolClass.  A group of teachers got together and decided to create a cooperative. It’s a brilliant, generous idea. It’s teachers working for teachers under rules made by teachers. The business is owned by the teachers, the teachers make the decisions. Self-respect with not a shark in sight. And the chance to share and grow.
 

I wish I’d had this idea in 1992. I didn’t. But if the past is always shouting in our ears, how can we hear the first whispering of the future? I applied to join MyCoolClass and, dear teacher, I would urge you to. The future is about to happen.

 

 

 

The Ugly Truth Behind Online Teaching                       and How to Fix It

The Ugly Truth Behind Online Teaching and How to Fix It

We’ve all heard the pitch. “Work from anywhere”, “earn a superior wage”, “make your own schedule” … The promises are abundant, but the real story behind online teaching is one of social injustice, broken promises, and disposable heroes. Let’s look into the ugly truth behind online teaching… and how to fix it.

Let’s start with a clear understanding that it’s not all bad in the online teaching realm. There are certainly some great advantages to working in this sector. Whether you are looking to procure income while exploring the planet, or just want to pick up a few extra bucks from the comfort of your home office, teaching online may very well be something worth looking into. The work can be quite rewarding, both in terms of financial compensation and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from helping young minds prosper.

So, what are these problems I speak of? What could possibly be bad about a job that allows you to work from your bedroom, a hotel room in Cancun or the back of your RV in Yosemite? Let’s explore just a few things that can leave online teachers with a bad taste in their mouth, and possibly a hole in their wallet.

Teacher Penalties

It happens to the best of us. Whether we miss a class due to an internet failure or are a few seconds late because we just had to wrap up that last point with the previous student. There are endless reasons that a teacher can be a bit late or miss a class altogether. While this is, of course, a no-no, parents and students generally understand and are willing to work with a teacher to make sure these rare occurrences don’t destroy the student/teacher relationship.

Unfortunately, on many of the large teaching platforms a teacher can face stiff financial penalties, and even lose their job entirely, often for instances that are completely beyond their control.

Imagine that as a teacher, you enter the classroom just ONE SECOND after the planned start time of a lesson. Later that day, as you are filling out your daily reports, you realize that you have a message in your inbox informing you that you have lost half of your income from the lesson due to your tardiness (of 1 second). Want some icing for that cake? The student was late as well. They did not enter the classroom until 3 minutes in and are in no way even aware that you were late at all. Does it matter? Nope, that money just went directly into the pocket of the company you represent.

So, that sucked, but it’s all in the past now…. Or is it? Nope. The company also bases your per lesson rate on the number of lessons you taught the month prior. This is done on a point system, where you can earn and lose points for a plethora of reasons. Now you have come to discover that because of this late class, which was a total non-issue for everyone involved, you will have a lower rate next month, and will end up losing hundreds of dollars as a result.

There are tons of teacher penalties that vary drastically from one platform to another, but the one thing that is consistent is a lack of recourse for teachers. Many companies won’t listen to reason, even if it is staring them in the face. The only logic they cave to is the one that feeds their bottom line.

Disposable Heroes

Let’s work on some idioms. “A dime a dozen”. That’s certainly a good one to describe online ESL teachers. If you are looking for a tutor you will have as many as you can handle battering down your door at the mere mention of a prospective client. The big platforms are aware of this and run their businesses accordingly.

Teachers constantly tiptoe across shards of broken glass when communicating with their employers. A company appointment setter or administrator can make or break a teacher in no time flat. To anger or annoy one of these folks is not wise, and a teacher can find himself with a fraction of the students he had yesterday simply for standing up for him/herself.

To the company this is no problem. There are literally THOUSANDS of teachers waiting in the wings to scoop up these students, who may be upset about losing a teacher they liked very much. Unfortunately, that productive student/teacher relationship has been destroyed and there is little chance of mending it. Why? Because that teacher had to move on. They had no choice but to close their schedule and focus on another platform, where they may very well face the same fate a few months down the road.

But why? Why would a company allow dedicated, qualified teachers to fall between the cracks? Wouldn’t it be better to nurture healthy relationships between company representatives, teachers, and students alike? Would it not benefit everyone to have a solid base of great teachers you can count on? Of course, the answer is yes, but for one minor detail. Yep, you guessed it…. That same bottom line.

Social Injustice

There are qualified language teachers spread far and wide across the earth. They are passionate, capable, and ready to work. However, for many of these teachers, online teaching platforms are off-limits or limited in scope. Why? Well, for no other reason than they were born in the wrong country. “UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand”. If you have a passport from one of these 6 nations, you are in the door. However, if you hail from South Africa you may be left out in the cold. Never mind that you’re a native speaker of English, hold a doctorate in English philology, and have 25 years’ experience teaching. There’s just no place for you here. Teachers teach, and first, they learn to teach. Many of the best teachers I know are from countries that are “non-native speaker” nations.

It’s not only access to jobs, but there is also a lack of equality when it comes to pay scale as well. One of the “big companies” offer two separate courses for kids. One is a course catering to students in China, while the other to those in the Philippines. A “native speaker” on the Chinese course can potentially earn upwards of $20 per hour, while a Filipino teacher will earn around $2, for the EXACT SAME WORK. You even hear some teachers attempt to justify this by saying things like “oh, but the cost of living is so much lower there….”, but remember, the pay is based on where a teacher is from, not where they reside. So, if I am an American living in Vietnam, I am living high on the proverbial hog, but if I am a Vietnamese teacher living in America, I may very well be dramatically underpaid. Why? BINGO!!! Bottom line.

How to Fix It

Believe it or not, this may be the easy part. The answer is to put the power and profit in the hands of the teachers themselves, and in turn, back into their communities. By building teacher cooperatives this can become reality. When teachers have a vested interest in their company’s success and the profit comes back to them, as opposed to money-hungry investors, both teachers and students walk away winners.

The teacher cooperative revolution has begun with MyCoolClass.com. Take some time to read about their vision. Let them show you how to bring social justice and sanity back to online ESL teaching. All qualified teachers are welcome at MyCoolClass.com, regardless of where they happened to be born. Just… don’t be late!

Click here for more information about MyCoolClass.com and our teacher cooperative project.

What is your biggest complaint about teaching online?

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