Many folks that I interact with outside of Higher Education are interested in hearing about my work in online education, specifically my work as an online instructor. I often hear that they wish they had this dream job and could work from home on their own schedule. What they don’t realize is that working as an online instructor is much more time-consuming than expected and can be related directly to professional burn-out.
There are a lot of reasons why online instructors may experience burn-out. For example, taking on a large number of courses, the lack of face-to-face conversations and the volume of feedback and grading that is required. And for those individuals that work as online instructors in addition to their “other job” it is difficult to provide high quality responses to discussions and emails at the end of a normal work day.
Here are a few items that may help avoid feeling burned-out:
Management – develop strong classroom management skills. For example, often students have the same questions as in previous terms. Proactively address these questions at the start of the course or lesson. Are you providing similar feedback over and over….find a way to automate this. Establish set office hours at varying times throughout the week.
Time – have a set time of day that you log into your classes. When you finish teaching for the day, do not go back to it. And take breaks to avoid sitting for an extended period of time. Don’t do all of the grading in one session.
Talk – ask students for phone meetings as needed, rather than relying on email. Call a fellow online instructor to discuss strategies. Talk to a friend or neighbor who works in an unrelated field.
Read – read academic journals and blogs to gain new teaching techniques and strategies that you could adopt in your classes. [and of course, read for pleasure].
Health – eat nutritiously, exercise and sleep well to be fit for the job. Have some soft music playing in the background while teaching. Don’t eat in your office/workspace. Get out and go for a quick walk.
Connect – create a social media outlet where students can follow you. Set up an Instagram or Twitter account where you can invite students to view your content and help you feel more connected.
Overall, take your time, find balance and have fun!