How teachers are making ends meet through online tutoring
Orbit Education Fund is the Uber/Lyft for Educators across America
by Hannah Miet
It’s no secret that teachers are not paid enough for the work they do, especially amidst pandemic-related burnout: 67 percent have or had a second job “to make ends meet.”
The most flexible of those side careers is a program that can be seen as Uber/Lyft for educators. The Orbit Education Fund (OEF) offers free remote tutoring, taught by actual teachers who earn extra income by doing so on their own schedules, to students in grades 3-12 — and it’s catching on for teachers who need extra income and would rather make it teaching the curriculum they already know than by…well, actually driving for Uber. It’s much-needed flexibility in a profession where getting a break to use the restroom is a triumph.
OEF’s teachers, who virtually lead lessons from all over the country, teach on their own schedules for as many hours as they wish, in whatever location suits them, without a cap on how much they earn.
Teachers pursuing this new income stream get paid in two ways. The first is through the tip feature on the video streaming service, which is called Orbit, where parents can contribute. The second is through the purchasing of the streamed video lessons for which teachers set their own fees, and by creating video study guides that students can watch outside of the lessons to prepare for exams. Instructors set their own fees for these guides, which parents can pay for to give students access. They record and upload them wherever is most convenient, and can even do so on their phones.
In 2019, American Progress cited the decline in college students pursuing careers as teachers, saying that “low salaries” were among the culprits. While some teachers use OEF as an additional income stream while teaching full-time, teaching part-time, or substitute teaching, others may use it to transition away from teaching in the classroom altogether.
There are many factors contributing to teachers leaving the profession other than low pay, which is the number one reason. Safety is a growing concern. Many teachers that are not remote feel unsafe in schools as omicron surges. Others are burned out on working so hard without seeing the results in their students, who have struggled in the pandemic to keep up. From 2019 to 2020, the number of children with reading difficulties jumped from 460 million to 584 million. The rise of more than 20 per cent wiped out two decades of education gains, the agency said. This has been especially heartbreaking because it is not for a lack of teachers trying. In fact, teacher burnout is at an alltime high.
So it’s no surprise that when EducationWeek asked 1000 educators about the likelihood that they’ll leave teaching in the next two years, 54 percent of teachers said they are “somewhat” or “very likely” to do so, compared to just 34 percent of teachers who said they would have answered that question with “somewhat” or “very likely” if they’d been asked the fall before the pandemic began.
One of the reasons that the Uber for educators model OEF is attractive to teachers is that they feel they can actually make an impact. Tutoring is often the extra step needed for children to get into college, and the fact that OEF is free allows children from all walks of life to access it.
OEF is looking for Educators to record lessons that will functionally assist their students’ understanding. OEF provides free tutoring through modernized learning assistance. Lessons are taught by instructors through a scheduled broadcast. Students log in to lessons according to the specific curriculum of their grades. For more information about OEF, visit the program website.
Interested teachers can reach out directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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