Career in Online Teaching
Instruct, Influence and Inspire
Each professional has an important role to play in the society. Doctors keep you healthy, engineers design comforts for us, shopkeepers help us access whatever we need, and electricians and plumbers help us with efficient use of our utilities. Yet, it is the Teachers who play the most influential part in our lives. As children, they help us gain knowledge; develop communication skills, problem solving and decision making abilities; and make us aware of our social responsibilities. As we grow up, we need them to nurture our analytical ability, reasoning ability, and comprehension. They train us for any profession we might choose to pursue, and also inspire us to be more creative and experimental.
Good teachers are not merely instructors. They are also good role models, trusted friends, and even confidantes for their students. Hence, the student-teacher relationship has to be delicately balanced, where teachers are seen as an authoritative figure and yet seem approachable to students. As H G Wells said, the Teacher is the real maker of History. They lay the educational foundation for the children, and build the nation by developing its human resources in the best way possible.
Today, anyone can teach with the help of technology. If you have knowledge, you can teach online – irrespective of your age, socio-economic status, or gender. As long as your e-courses have content that is valuable for students, you can always become an online teacher.
Online Teaching is the New Trend
India’s traditions have always honoured ‘teachers’ as ‘gods’. They shape a new generation after all. Yet, our bright students do not want to become teachers today. We see budding engineers, doctors, bankers, businessmen and even politicians and social workers amongst us but very few of our best students aim to choose ‘teaching’ as their profession.
There is a severe shortage of good teachers worldwide. India is a relatively young nation itself. Those who choose to teach well can not only help in the progress of our country but can also find excellent career opportunities abroad.
Online teaching is the latest craze in the market. It is quite different from the traditional classroom teaching as it offers complete flexibility to both teachers and students. If you are an expert in a subject or a topic and guide other people about it, you can use the technology to impart your knowledge to others for free or for a specified fee. There are many private and government players that are creating online platforms to make education more accessible and flexible.
Online teaching encompasses many types of teaching activities that happen online, which include:
*Live Virtual Classes: Through satellite technology, it is now possible for students and teachers to connect remotely - at a specified time. Teaching happens almost like a traditional classroom where teachers give lectures and can interact with students through satellite video calls or instant messaging. A teacher can write on a blackboard which is visible to students on a large screen and can show presentations to students too. It is almost like talking to someone on a TV.
*Recorded Lectures or MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses): Many online courses these days offer students a chance to access lectures whenever and wherever they want. This technique makes it possible for students to see lectures as many times as they want, and also enables students from all over the world to access lectures from the best teachers in best colleges and universities of the world.
*One-to-one Classes: Personalised teaching is also possible online, where teacher interacts directly with just one student over Internet. This is quite popular in students looking for a good tutor or mentor to help them with their school and college studies or assignments. This type of online teaching session is also popular for solving doubts and queries of students instantly.
*Integrated Online Teaching: Today, education leaders are coming up with different ways in which online teaching can be integrated with traditional classroom teaching. This enables teachers and educators to use digital media to explain concepts better to students, and help students in remote areas to access quality education through different gadgets such as mobile phones, tablets, desktops and laptops.
Educational Qualifications & Training for Teachers
Today, kids’ attention spans are declining rapidly and distractions are increasing. At such a time, ‘teaching’ a class does need training. The changing technology, and the integration of Internet and digital tools also makes teachers’ training imperative to really engage a traditional classroom or a virtual class full of students.
Teachers teaching students of different ages and developmental stages need different kinds of training. Educational requirements for different types of teachers are as follows:
To become a nursery or pre-school teacher, you will need to do at least 1-year Certificate or Diploma course in Nursery Teacher Training (NTT). Those who have cleared Class 12 can join the course. There is no upper age limit for enrolling in an NTT course, and hence, one can do it at any age and stage.
Besides NTT, other diploma or certificate courses that you might do to become a nursery or kindergarten teacher are:
*Child Care and Education,
*Early Childhood Education,
*Pre-Primary and Primary Teachers’ Training, and
*Montessori Education courses offered by Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) affiliates.
AMI offers courses to handle children at three age levels - Assistants to Infancy course (to handle children from birth to 3 years), Primary Diploma course (to handle children from 3 to 6 years), and Elementary Diploma course (to handle children from 6 to 12 years).
National Child Development Council (NCDC) also offers nursery teacher training courses on a non-profit basis.
Nursery teaching programs cover areas related to child psychology and education, such as theoretical and practical training for teaching, managing, and caring for young kids. Such teachers are mostly involved with activities like storytelling, reciting rhymes, planning lessons, and organising play activities as well as age-appropriate creative development activities for children.
Besides working in nursery or pre-primary schools, trained nursery teachers can start their own play school, crèche, nursery school, or day care centre. Salary packages vary widely, depending on the location and reputation of a school but most nursery teachers start at a salary of Rs 5,000 to 7,000. The earning increases considerably if one starts his or her own business. Montessori teacher training programs are recognised internationally and hence, provide you better opportunities abroad.
*School Teachers: Government often advertises school teachers' vacancies for Trained Graduate Teachers (TGT), Post Graduate Teachers (PGT), and Physical Education Teachers (PET). Now, it is mandatory to clear the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) to get teaching jobs in government schools from Class 1 to 8. Apart from the Central Government, most states also conduct their own TETs.
Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) for TGTs
The TET has two papers: Paper 1 is meant for teachers who want to teacher Class 1 to Class 5, while Paper 1 is meant for teachers who want to teach Class 6 to Class 8. Any graduate (including B.Ed graduates) have to score at least 60% marks in the eligibility test to work as a government teacher.
To teach Classes 1 to 5 (at primary school level), student must have done Class 12 with at least 50% marks and done 2-year Diploma in Elementary Education, Education or Special Education, or 4-year Bachelor of Elementary Education. Those who have done Graduation and 2-year Diploma in Elementary Education can also appear for the exam.
To teach Classes 6 to 8 (at elementary school level), student must have done Graduation and 2-year Diploma in Elementary Education or Graduation with at least 50% marks and 1-year B.Ed program. Students who have scored 50% marks in Class 12 and have done 4-year Bachelor in Elementary Education or 4-year BA/B.Sc in Education program can also appear for the exam. The Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) is conducted twice a year - in February, and in September.
Post Graduate Teacher
To hire teachers for high schools and senior secondary schools, the state governments conduct the PGT exam. Graduates in any discipline who have done B.Ed from a recognised university can apply for the PGT exam. Generally, the minimum age is specified as 21 years for the exam. There is no upper age limit for the exam though.
The PGT exam is conducted in two parts:
*Part 1 tests prospective teachers on Current Affairs, General Awareness, General Science, Indian Constitutions, Quantitative Aptitude, Reasoning, Teaching Aptitude etc.
*Part 2 tests prospective teachers on specific subjects.
Apart from state governments, Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) and Navodaya Vidyalaya (NV) also conduct PGT exams to hire teachers at senior levels.
Candidates with doctoral degrees (such as M.Phil or PhD) are preferred for college teaching positions. As per the UGC rules, those who hold M.Phil degree can be promoted to the Assistant Professor post after 13 years of service while those who hold PhD degree may be promoted to the post after 12 years of service.
For recruitment as 'Professors' in state-run or recognised universities or institutions, it is mandatory to clear the State Eligibility Test (SET) or the National Eligibility Test (NET) exam. To appear for the NET exam, you should have at least 55% marks at the postgraduate level. The NET is conducted by the University Grants Commission (UGC) twice a year - in June, and in December. Those who clear NET can apply for universities or colleges across India while those who clear the SET exam can only apply for the universities, colleges and institutes of the state.
The UGC also holds a Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) exam for candidates interested in academic research. JRF qualified candidates can also be hired as Assistant Professors by Indian colleges, institutes and universities.
On an average, an assistant professor can earn anywhere between Rs 16,000 to Rs 40,000 per month while a professor can earn between Rs 38,000 to Rs 68,000 per month. IITs, IIMs, BITS and AIIMS are known to pay highest salaries to their lecturers or assistant professors. Most good institutions require at least 60% mark at PG level to hire candidates as Assistant Professors. Some may also ask for your research publications, where journals of international repute get the preference.
To make a career in this field, you should do at least a 1-year program.
There can be different specialisations in special education teaching programs too, depending on the type of disabilities you handle. Some teachers work with mentally retarded or autistic children and teach them life skills and basic literacy. Most of the teachers, however, work with students that have mild to moderate disabilities, and modify general education curriculum to suit them. Some work with infants and toddlers while some work with students at elementary, middle, and secondary school levels. Students with speech or language impairments, hearing impairments, visual impairments, brain injuries, and multiple disabilities also require special education teachers. Early intervention can help all these children live their lives more comfortably.
Special education teachers must have a lot of patience, empathy for students and their parents, and dedication towards their job. They often find jobs in special schools or rehabilitation centres. They may also be hired as private tutors and caretakers for special kids. A career of a special education teacher is highly rewarding but at the same time, it can be emotionally demanding and physically draining. To overcome these challenges, you must have a high-level of selflessness and a will to serve others.
Additional Qualifications for Online Teachers
Besides subject expertise, online teachers need proficiency with internet-based technologies and teaching tools. Online teachers deliver lectures through live classes or recorded videos as well as use forums, social media, emails, chat rooms, message boards, podcasts, and blogs to interact with students. They use different online media formats to teach different types of students and address their varied learning styles. They also assign assignments and group projects online, and check the work online.
Online courses are quite popular with busy professionals, and students from remote areas who are not able to access quality education because of lack of time or easy accessibility. If you have a good academic record and/or a professional degree, you can earn good money as an online tutor.
The scope is endless. An engineer may teach students preparing for IIT JEE exam while a doctor may help a student preparing for medical entrance exams. Crafts, dance, martial arts, English and more can be taught online to help students interested in the related courses. To become an online teacher, all you need is knowledge and experience in a field, and a will to share it with others.
(The author is a career counsellor based in New Delhi)