When I’m At My Best As An Online Reading Teacher

cute blonde boy in glasses smiles

I was recently asked who I am as a teacher when I’m at my best. I started to talk, but then the person hushed me, and said, “No. You have to wait an hour before you can answer.”

Being a teacher, that caught my attention, because I know what the person meant. She wanted me to really, seriously think about it, then let it go for a while to let my brain work without me. I often ask kids to do this!

Then I should return to it again to fine-tune it and catch anything I didn’t have quite right.

Here is what I came up with.

When I’m at my best as a reading teacher on Skype: (my lessons are online—not in person!)

  • I am fully and completely immersed in the child’s lesson experience.
  • Every word the child says, every letter or sound or passage that she reads carries hidden messages for me about the precise things she does and doesn’t understand.
  • I don’t let a single thing other than that child and her experiences into my thoughts.
  • I respond to any cues at all that show me she is not clear on something, no matter how unrelated they may at first seem.
  • Sometimes the best response is to remain silent, and that one is the hardest of all.
  • I focus on her feelings, mood, skills, natural talents and needs, and respond intuitively with a sure and complete knowledge of my area of expertise.
  • I am open, aware, and monitoring closely in case there is something newly apparent that I’d not considered before, that I should perhaps try using with other children too.
  • We are learning equally.

If I stick to this, and if the child’s parent understands the need for the student to be away from the family, the TV, the dog, and any other distractions, we can be sure that she is receiving the best possible experience for her valuable learning time, and for the parent’s fee, if one is being paid.

And that night? That night I will sleep very well.

8 Responses to “When I’m At My Best As An Online Reading Teacher”

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  1. Bonnie says:

    Paula, as a teacher who has used Skype to tutor I applaud you. I have only used this with older children and found it a very different situation than when I sit next to them.

    Thanks for sharing your experinces. I hope many parents and other teachers see the value in learning in different ways (and getting away from the TV!) and in different formats.

    Yay for innovative and strong teachers like you!

    • Paula Lee Bright says:

      Bonnie, I’ve discovered something very exciting about teaching kids with reading problems or kids who can’t read, even dyslexic kids, online.

      They love learning within tech stuff like Skype! They love using ebooks and online whiteboards and all kinds of other stuff I use to teach.

      I can’t really believe it, but it’s true: I am having more success teaching my reluctant readers and my slow readers and my non-readers ONLINE than I did even in the classroom one on one!

      I know it sounds crazy, but I’m dead serious. This is the best teaching for poor readers that I’ve ever done, in all my years.

      And I LOVE it! 😀

  2. Aw Paula- you going against the agenda of the education department? Children will read if they realize that reading is AMAZING and that only happens if teachers and parents support reading.
    There is a danger though – reading might give children ideas about what might be.

    • Paula Lee Bright says:

      Hi, Roberta. I’ve never been a big fan of the massive Ed Department running the day-to-day details of schools they’ve never seen! I think the parents, teachers, and principal know their children far better than a bureaucrat in Washington, D.C.! I’ll probably fight to the end, kiddo. It’s in my nature. 😉

    • Paula Lee Bright says:

      OH, Noooooo…..

      You mean the true independent, creative thinking! Oh, no, heaven help us all! 😉

      Lordy, I hope so, Roberta. I so hope that my students become true thinkers, instead of just automatons believing what they hear on TV.

      We are SISTERS in protest for what we believe! 😀

  3. Beautifully written post. I am so happy your friend asked you this question in this way. I hope you get to help many, many children, Paula. They so deserve the chance to learn from a teacher like you.

    • Paula Lee Bright says:

      Tambre, thank you so much. I hope I do too! The important thing for every child, not just the ones I help, is to master the skill and hopefully come to see its value. 🙂

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