Online teaching is a rewarding game that requires a high level of focus, dedication, tenacity, and a reduced hope for immediate gratification. There will be many roadblocks, several factors aimed at discouraging you, students whose actions will frustrate you, location factors like bad network connection, and beautiful success stories too. When immediate gratification isn’t one of your goals, overcoming these obstacles will be achievable and success inevitable.
It’s noteworthy that several online teachers have started strongly but plummeted along the way, while others stayed and are showing us the result of consistency regardless of the struggles/constraints they face daily.
I hope that by sharing this golden information about the challenges, struggles, victories, and tips I’ve applied during my online teaching journey, you will be inspired. And if you’re thinking of walking this path, I hope to stir greatness in you and encourage you with my story.
My online teaching experience is a story of a fire-filled human who doesn’t know how to sit idly!
While serving my country, Nigeria (NYSC), at the Ondo State University of Science and Technology (OSUSTECH), Okitipupa, Ondo State, my primary assignment was to prepare chemicals/laboratory equipment and grade laboratory reports when needed.
Most of the time, I had more than enough time on my hands, and while my bosses had other things to do which I wasn’t interested in, the need to do something more impactful came knocking. This need, coupled with the burning desire to build a generation of digitally inclined Nigerian youths, was the start of my online teaching.
My first online teaching was a FREE five (5) month Internship on the following Digital Skills: Digital Marketing, Social Media Management, Content Creation, Creative Writing, and Online Management. I taught for FOUR MONTHS OUT OF THE FIVE! By the time I was through, I had little to no energy left, but the experience and impact were fulfilling. I had successfully trained forty (40) Nigerians with twenty-eight (28) graduates who are currently doing well in their respective life paths.
I took an entire month to rest, and the need to start another online class became glaring and highly NEEDED! That was the beginning of the SARMLife Blogging Course. I still rushed myself because who teaches BLOGGING for THREE DAYS!!!
I was learning on the job; best believe that.
My second blogging course was better: better management skills, fewer headaches. And with the ongoing 2021 SARMLife Digital Skills Training, stress is a far-fetched language. Effectiveness with increased productivity is the NEW TERM around here, baby! Haha!
ONLINE TEACHING: CHALLENGES I FACED
Within this one-year journey, several limiting factors have come up and determined to make me stop. As strong-willed as I am, trivial issues have given me sleepless nights to the point of giving up. But each time I feel like throwing it all away, one of my strong pillars always shows up to remind me of the beautiful work I am doing, and why stopping isn’t an option.
- POOR TIME MANAGEMENT/PLANNING: I’ve always felt like I had my time under control until I began my online teaching journey. Haha! See, my students know me for promptness, I am never late, but a lot happens in the background like me not eating before class time or forgetting to eat after class is over because I want to answer everyone’s questions all at once. During last year’s Digital Skills Training, I felt the need to always answer questions immediately because it would create the impression that I knew the answers and not taking more time to check Google. WHAT A DUMB THOUGHT! Because of my lack of proper time management, I was always sick after class. It was a horrid feeling!
- EXPENSIVE DATA PLANS: Gooooosh! *screams* Can you imagine spending NGN3,000 weekly on data subscriptions? Let me do the math for you. That’s NGN12,000+ in a month (sobs inwardly). And I charge close to nothing for my classes. So, you ask, how do you keep up? Keep reading.
- POOR RECORDKEEPING: Remember, I am a fire-filled human, and when I started my online teaching journey, all I cared about was impacting these students positively. While this is a good goal, what is better is keeping records of student’s success or otherwise for future purposes. I didn’t know these things until a grant opportunity came knocking on our door that required producing records. Similar to this point is a business plan. It is vital to have these documents as it sets you apart from the average brands/businesses.
- LACK OF NEEDED SKILLS: After the first Digital Skills Training, my designs were all over the place. The issued certificates weren’t coherent and professional. Every other thing was jumbled up aside from my classes and notes.Those were my strong points; I never slacked in a class. But you see the rest, I was drowning.
- LACK OF CONNECTION WITH EXPERTS IN THE FIELD: The truth is, if you plan to do life alone, you are on a clear and straight path to failure. Seriously, you might succeed initially, but your crumbling won’t be far-fetched. Do you remember how I taught for four months straight last year? Imagine how drained I was but for great team members who carried other SARMLife responsibilities. If I had kept the same attitude in 2021, you bet I wouldn’t give my all, and the students wouldn’t get the best. Variety is still the spice of life.
I see how the present Social Media Management coach SARMLife hired is teaching the students, and I can boldly say that it’s more productive than what I did last year. This fact alone gladdens my heart because we are connecting more with experts in the field for the sake of the students, and the results are glaring.
- DIRE NEED FOR ADDED SUPPORT: When I started online teaching, I believe I had ONLY one team member. And God bless her heart, she isn’t the social media type, and that slowed down progress to some extent. I saw her strengths and the need for a social media person which we didn’t have then was pressing. Maybe we won’t be where we are today, but in all, I am grateful for this point.
- POOR LIGHT: I wished countless times that someone could ship me back to the United States where I was confident of constant light. But starting a business in Nigeria has been a learning curve on many grounds.
- CONVENIENCE: I have a history of back pain, and it became worse when I began teaching online because of my bad postures. I mean, I didn’t have a work desk so I would always resort to either laying on my belly or slouching. This challenge cost me so much health-wise. Aside from sitting posture, I didn’t have a workspace where distractions were minimal.
- POOR FEE CHARGING SKILLS: This is the last point and I seriously don’t want to own up to this challenge, but it’s one of them whether I like it or not.
While promoting the first batch of my blogging course last year, someone said to my friend, “She is charging too low fa,” and I replied with a strong groaning in my spirit “Not a lie. I looked at my audience and know that they won’t be able to afford a higher price for now due to so many reasons. Besides, the value of what they will get is more important to me at this point.” I said those words with strong bitterness, and I felt like people would not value my work because of the low fees.
One thing I know is this: low fees or not, the people who know SARMLife for the value it constantly gives will always spread the word. And this has been our saving grace.
WHAT I DID TO OVERCOME MY ONLINE TEACHING CHALLENGES
Overcoming each challenge didn’t come at once. There are some challenges that I am still learning effective ways to get better. In all, I am not where I was last year January.
Here are some ways I overcame (still overcoming) the challenges shared above.
- POOR TIME MANAGEMENT/PLANNING: I now make use of my iPhone Notes App a lot for planning!!! Alongside this, I now have weekly meetings with my team members where we plan the week’s content/activities. With planning the week, and delegation of duties, I get to have time for myself too. Don’t worry, I eat well now and take needed breaks.
- EXPENSIVE DATA PLANS: It’s like GLO/MTN knows how much data I consume. They give me special offers which I am extremely grateful for. I am currently on a 40GB/NGN6,000 MTN data plan. That’s a good deal!
- POOR RECORDKEEPING: I learned the HARD WAY and from the best. I am thankful for Tolulope Makinwa who taught and showed me the importance of record keeping. Now, we have an online database for all the students who have passed through SARMLife. Soon, we plan to get a progress report from them for recommendations and future opportunities.
- LACK OF NEEDED SKILLS: Our solution to this is now paying for services. I now understand that I can’t do it all. We pay for graphics, some designs, and other needs I do not have the time for. We also plan our needs ahead of time so we can reach out to service providers on time. Peep the difference between last year’s certificates to this year’s. Opor! Even social media designs have improved because I learned to consult experts when in doubt.
- LACK OF CONNECTION WITH EXPERTS IN THE FIELD: I bless God for online communities. Like I tell my bloggers, you can’t thrive without a community. Being a part of related communities in the past six months connected me with some of the experts I now work with today. What a blessing! If you are an African Blogger reading this, anticipate the SARMLife Blogging Community for Africans in June, 2021.
- DIRE NEED FOR ADDED SUPPORT: You won’t believe that the supports I have now come from the students I trained. And they believe in the SARMLife vision and mission so much that they keep supporting us even without pay. The result VALUE births! Also, God blessed us with another team member who is vast with social media and complements me. If you want to be a part of the SARMLife Team, kindly email firstname.lastname@example.org stating your WHY and HOW you hope to contribute.
Here are some volunteering positions you can look into
- Facebook Community Manager
- Content Writer
- Business Strategist
- Content Creator
- Sales and Marketing Manager
- Personal Assistant to Founder
We require a minimum of three (3) months’ volunteering time, after which we can decide to either keep you or not.
- POOR LIGHT: Hmm! I am still learning how to overcome this one. Maybe I need to write to the Nigerian president to help our lives. Anyway, thank God for blessing my family with a generator. With that, I charge my laptop daily, which I get to use for the entire day, plus I have a power bank to sustain my phone battery.
- CONVENIENCE: Thankfully, mom gave me a work stool which I use now and then. Also, I now live in a place where there is little to no distraction.
- POOR FEE CHARGING SKILLS: I am learning! I understand the importance of VALUE, and I also understand the negative meanings people read to courses with low fees. SARMLife places people over money, and we will retain that testimony while we run the business properly as well.
HOW I GET MY STUDENTS
This is simple; due to the value we are known for, most of the SARMLife students come from old/present student referrals. Even as this year’s Digital Skills Training is going on, we’ve been receiving messages from people who are looking forward to the next training. The same goes for the blogging courses.
Aside from referrals, the next method of getting our students is promotion on my social platforms, my team members, friends, and family.
Finally, I get my students from paid adverts, which is rare.
MY STUDENTS’ RESPONSIVENESS
Here is the formula: Good student + Not-so-responsive student + Badly behaved student = great students.
In every course, I get several good students who respond well, get their assessments done on time, ask questions, and all.
Likewise, there are the not-so-responsive ones that I have to toil before they speak up. Finally, there is the badly behaved student that won’t reply to my messages, not submit assessments on time, or not even do them.
Here is the irony, the last two sets end up being my best buddies once the course is over, while the good students go about their lives.
This has taught me NEVER to give up on any student whether or not they are well-behaved. This is life; we all go through tough times, and who knows if these badly behaved students were going through a tough time while the course was on?
As a virtual coach, you will meet several personalities, and because you don’t know them nor can you see them, it’s hard to tell what’s going on at their end. Be kind and give grace to ALL your students.
ONLINE TEACHING: THE FINANCIAL ASPECT
What I need you to know here is that if you don’t know how to invest in yourself, learn how to do that before venturing into this online teaching journey.
You will spend money from your pocket, which you might not get back in your first few years of business. But if you already know this, your business account will slowly but surely transition from DEEP RED to GREEN.
CREDIBILITY AND ONLINE TEACHING
As a virtual coach, these people don’t know you on a personal level, hence the need to protect your credibility and yearn to deliver value always. Let value be at the center of what you do and let people see it (this is vital). These few lines have been our saving grace at SARMLife coupled with the strategy below.
The SARMLife strategy = FREE OFFERS – LESSER FEES – INCREASE – BALANCE (An expo many don’t share)
Wow! I feel so exposed, but it’s for your good, which makes me happy.
I have said a lot already, so I’ll end with this: TAKE YOUR CUES & LESSONS. IF VIRTUAL COACHING IS FOR YOU, you are a million steps ahead of the majority because you just read this article. I wish you all the best!
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