Let me tell you a little bit about my work. Since most of you have read my posts, you know that I teach 12th grade English for an online charter school. I sit at my desk in my home office with my computer and phone while my students (ostensibly) do the same in their homes. I will usually work for several hours before I realize I’m still in my pajamas and need a shower. The students in my care will rarely answer the phone before noon because they, unlike me, do not have scheduled office hours and can do their lessons at any time of day or night. Many of them have day jobs or a family to raise. I usually take a couple of evening hours a night to track down those who are too busy during the day to chat with me. What do I do? I help my students to learn. There isn’t a ton of direct instruction and lecturing like in a traditional setting. Think of it more like I’m a one-on-one tutor to almost 200 independent learners. The best part of this is that I can tailor the material and how I teach it to each student who is willing to work with me. If one student is incredibly interested in Ophelia’s suicide and how that affected her family’s ability to bury her, I can talk about it with her. If another student cannot understand what the Wife of Bath has to say, I can explain her tale in plain English to him. If yet another student doesn’t need my help to get straight A’s, I check in once a week just to say hello. Another part of what I do is I drag my charges, sometimes with major protest, over the line to passing the class. The greatest myth about taking classes online is that it’s easy. Having been an online student for college classes, I have to laugh about this one. My students have to figure out The Canterbury Tales, Hamlet, and a novel from a selection for independent reading. They have to write a ton of essays with correct grammar and spelling (no text speak). They also have to know when to work things through on their own and when to ask for help. Too many of them never find that balance and shut down completely. The problem is that they must keep trying until they reach at least a 60% mastery of the material. This is why I send out packets, make a ton of phone calls, and occasionally get in my car to work with them in person. This past weekend was one of those times that made me remember that not only am I in the right line of work but that I’m doing it well. Graduation for the Class of 2010 was on Saturday afternoon. It took all of my mental strength to not constantly run up on stage every time I recognized a name of a student who had occupied my class and my heart. I was able to collect a few hugs, including from two former students who were named valedictorians (they didn’t have to speak, much to their respective relief). Those hugs will stay with me for a long time, as will the thank you notes, phone calls and Facebook friend requests from those who knew I only accept them from graduates. Wow, I get to do this all again next year? I’m thrilled beyond belief! However, I think I’ll enjoy my summer recess for a few weeks first.