Whittney Moody and her fellow GCA teachers
I taught in a brick and mortar school for eight years and have been teaching virtually for five. When it comes to developing relationships with teachers in a virtual school versus the face–to–face interaction of the brick and mortar school, they are actually very similar. Though it did take longer to develop relationships in the virtual setting because we do not see each other every day, I think that my virtual relationships are actually closer because it can be easier to open up to someone you do not see on a daily basis.
I believe first impressions and relationship building are key components to having a successful school year. In a brick and mortar setting, it is easier to build relationships because teachers have their students in front of them every day. You have to be more intentional in a virtual setting. I have found that my virtual students are more willing to share and open up to me. It is almost as if the virtual connection breaks down barriers and makes students feel more secure. In a world where students treat Facebook and Twitter as their own personal daily diary, this makes sense to the virtual teacher.
While working from home may seem isolating and like it would be harder for teachers to collaborate, my planning experience from my brick and mortar days is very similar to my experience with virtual teaching in most regards. I implement the same type of strategies in the virtual setting that I used in brick and mortar. The main difference is that in the virtual setting I am able to do more with technology than I was able to do in a brick and mortar school. Collaboration is actually much higher in the virtual setting. My grade level team meets weekly and we are in constant communication via email throughout the week sharing ideas, successes, and suggestions.
There are many misconceptions about the virtual teaching profession. Perhaps the biggest is that a virtual teacher‘s job is easier than the brick and mortar teacher. There are definite trade-offs. I have to be more intentional to reach my students because they are not a captive audience in my brick and mortar classroom each day. However, I do get to work from home or wherever I have an internet connection. And yes, I do typically teach in my yoga pants!
Whittney Moody is a sixth grade social studies teacher at Georgia Cyber Academy.