Working online gives you the freedom to work from the comfort of wherever you choose to call home. This is a tantalizing prospect; especially for those who wish to stay at home with their families or live a transient life. I have been working online since October 2019, and while I absolutely love what this lifestyle allows me to do it has highlighted the importance of finding an online community. For many online teaching positions, you have the opportunity to meet new students every day but the same cannot be said of your coworkers. This can sometimes feel isolating. It's healthy to be able to vent to others, and it's necessary for this profession to have a support network made of individuals who understand the work and effort required to do this job. It is important to have mentors that can offer advice and help you jump hurdles they themselves may have encountered when they were first starting out. All of these reasons and more are why it is so crucial to find a positive and supportive community while teaching online and working remotely. Fortunately, social media has made it easier than ever for us to connect and share ideas online! Read on to find popular areas on social media where you will most certainly be able to meet and connect with other online teachers; share ideas, find support, laugh, and learn!
In my experience, Instagram is the largest community of online teachers. I have easily met a variety of people who work for some of the same companies I do, as well as others. Some work in physical schools, some work for Vipkid, Cambly, Magic Ears, Outschool, and GoGoKid to name just a few. Some teach online and are stay-at-home parents and others are using online teaching as a means to travel like me. Connecting with other teachers on Instagram is actually the main reason I began working for Vipkid and Outschool. The people I spoke with helped me realize that these were not scams and that teaching online was a viable way to simulataneasly earn a living and travel. Just search the name of the company you work for or want to work for, or the keywords "teach online" or "digital nomad". Any of these tags will find you countless accounts to follow. I have found this space on social media to be extremely encouraging and positive. People have been willing to share their experiences and numerous teaching tips. Being active on Instagram has allowed me to grow and learn from others and feel a part of a broader community. After some time I have been able to genuinely call many of these people friends and in one case have actually met up in person!
Recently, I created a discord channel for online teachers to be able to interact in an informal setting. While Discord began as a space primarily for gamers it has since expanded and allows individuals to join a variety of groups to exchange messages and voice chat. If you are just starting out with your online career or have been in the game for a while but are looking to expand your circle of coworkers, click on the image or highlighted text to join our discord community the "Online Teacher's Lounge". As online teachers, we don't have the opportunity to chat with one another in the hallway or stop by one another's classrooms. That's why I've created this discord server for us to "pop" into and check on our coworkers, share ideas, stories, and ask questions. You’ll be able to message and voice chat with other online teachers without having to set up a formal meeting or zoom call. I hope you'll find the Online Teachers' Lounge a welcoming space to get to know some of your coworkers.
Another good way to connect with online teachers is through Facebook groups. I have joined Facebook groups for each of the platforms that I work for, my TEFL program, and Vipkid Teachers who Travel. I have found the Facebook groups very helpful spaces to stay up to date on company policies and changes. It is also a great place to ask any questions when you are first starting out. Every member of that group has been in your shoes at one point or another and can usually offer helpful advice or point you in the right direction to get answers. Additionally, these groups are extremely beneficial for travelers. They can help connect you with people who are currently living in a country that you are interested in exploring. You can search for "expat" groups to find foreigners living in just about any country who are willing to answer your questions about transitioning to life abroad. The TEFL program that I went through also has active facebook groups for many countries which has been a wonderful way to meet other ITA alumn and receive guidance or learn about international teaching opportunities. You'll quickly notice each group has their own culture and are monitored by admin to make sure that things stay cordial. I have not specifically made "friends" in these facebook groups like I have on Instagram and Discord but I do recommend them for finding answers to your questions.
In summary, there are a variety of ways to connect with your online teacher coworkers. Facebook groups are a great place to get answers to your questions and stay up to date on policy changes and updates happening within your company. Instagram is ideal for meeting and connecting with individual teachers and sharing stories, teaching techniques, and insights. While Discord is a great space to voice chat with other teachers, send messages, and connect in a more informal manner.
If you are an online teacher how do you stay connected with your community? Leave your favorite social media outlets in the comment section below and let us know why you choose to interact on these platforms!