How To Get Started Teaching Online
Welcome back to our “Teacher Feature Series,” where we chat with educators who work online across borders. Today, please read about Shaundra Schlapia’s journey with HAWO American Academy.
Shaundra, please tell us all about you!
My name is Shaundra Schlapia, and I teach students in various elementary grades and middle grades one-on-one lessons with HAWO American Academy. I am an elementary school teacher and have been for 14 years. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Education. I have completed Florida’s requirements for ESOL in order to continue to be a highly qualified teacher.
How did you land your role at HAWO American Academy, and how long have you been working with the company?
I was looking to work with children part-time. I researched how to apply to 51Talk (now HAWO American Academy), and read about the expectations for the role. I had a very pleasant Skype interview, and am happy to say I have been with HAWO American Academy for one year and five months at the end of July.
What are two things you find most rewarding about teaching for HAWO American Academy?
How does one choose two things that are most rewarding when there are many more?
I am helping students practice American English after they come from school in addition to the English classes they have in school.
I can have fun with them, and be my true, fun-loving self. We sing, laugh, talk and learn. We have fun! Having fun was missed when I taught in a brick and mortar school most of the time.
Online teaching can be a rewarding experience for teachers. Can you elaborate on an experience or share a particular story that you found both surprising and inspiring?
Teaching with HAWO American Academy has been such a rewarding experience! As a teacher and person,
My evaluations come from my students and their parents because I am a contractor at HAWO American Academy. I follow guidelines like any teacher does with HAWO American Academy, but at the end of the day, I answer to myself. If I can do something different next time to make a lesson even better, I have the time to think without distractions, how I might teach it differently.
Some teachers are resistant to teaching online. What two pieces of advice would you give to other educators who would like to join HAWO?
Teaching online does take some time to feel comfortable seeing one’s self on the screen. It is similar to looking in a mirror the whole time you are working. At first, I would glance at myself when I was making sure the camera worked. I never knew how big my expressions were until I began teaching in front of a camera.
Then, the more I taught, the more comfortable I felt in front of the camera. I think it is like anything else. We have to practice to get better at things. Working in front of a camera is no different.
Do you want to work with children? Do you want to interact with people around the world? Do you need extra income? Would you like to make your own schedule and be your own boss? Are you, like me, and love helping others? These are just a few questions one might have? If you would like to work in your own home and have the qualifications for this adventure, why not join HAWO American Academy?
If you were mentoring a new teacher, what do you think are the two most important things they should know and why?
The very first lessons will not be perfect. Take the time to prepare and review the lessons provided for teachers from HAWO for the students on your schedule. If you have children, steal, I mean borrow, your children’s toys if they can help you during the lesson.
Dollar stores are teeming with toys and props for lessons. If you are/were a teacher, do you have things from prior times you could use in your teaching? I was able to use the stuff I bought for my brick and mortar classes. These things include books, toys, fun pens, and treasure chest items I used for rewards.
I use a lot of my daughter’s toys that she no longer needs. Sometimes, these things help when you need to make a connection with your students. And, they can increase the chances that your students will feel more comfortable with you in the first lesson or two. I even use my cats from time to time during our lessons.
How has teaching from home made a difference in your personal and professional life?
Teaching from home has made such a difference in my personal life and professional life. I can teach as many students as I would like or have scheduled time to suit my needs for my own life.
These students want someone to connect with them. If I can make my students smile, laugh or even giggle while learning, I have done my job.
The last or second to last sentence in each of my lesson memos is, “Have fun learning!” I do not care what I look like making my exaggerated expressions. I have always made them that large. I get to be me.
What is one interesting thing we don’t know about you?
There is so much HAWO and your readers do not know about my life. I love gardening. I love taking photos, not of myself, but of life.
I like to fish. I have cats. I have owned birds with cats. We have moved back home to Texas this past year. For my students, I tend to hoard books, pencils, pencils, markers, and crayons.
Have you smelled a Crayola Crayon lately?
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
If I were to write a book, the title for the first one would be: Wanted…Knowledge of A Forty-Plus Year-Old Woman for Me at Year 18
What or who inspires you?
Family, children, and nature inspire me.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Perhaps I should write a book.
About Shaundra Schlapia
Shaundra Schlapia lives in Texas with her family. She loves family, which includes three cats, children, animals, and nature. She likes to garden, teach, fish and cook.