"My name is Megan Hardy, and I primarily teach Dungeons & Dragons-themed classes."
Many would doubt those words could come from someone making a full-time living as a teacher. But Megan, who has taught on Outschool since December of 2016, has worked hard to become one of the best reviewed and most popular teachers on the platform. She has a lot to share about the benefits of teaching on Outschool and the lessons she's learned along the way.
A trying time becomes an opportunity
Megan's first experience with Outschool came when her children took Outschool classes. "Outschool is one of the few really good secular resources I have found out there." As a secular homeschooling mom, she first loved the quality, affordable classes Outschool offered.
When Megan's husband unexpectedly lost his job of sixteen years, Megan needed to make up for the loss in her family's income. Reflecting on the success of some of her children's Outschool teachers, she decided to take the leap and signup as an Outschool teacher.
Parent + teacher = A special set of skills
As a homeschooling mom of four children, Megan believes she is a more patient teacher. "I understand that this child needs more hands on, this child needs more attention, and I recognize the signals more," she said. She tunes in to learners' needs and gives them what they require to succeed. "When you have multiple kids and you teach them at home, you just kind of get used to that," she said.
Megan notes her classes "have taken off in a way I hadn't anticipated." And thanks to the popularity of her Dungeons and Dragons classes, she now considers teaching on Outschool her full-time job.
Why Megan loves teaching on Outschool
After teaching over seventy Outschool classes, Megan has drawn a few conclusions about her favorite parts of the job:
She can make her own schedule, leaving time for other commitments. "If I wanted to pull back, I could, and that's totally a great option for me." While she takes care to schedule classes at times that work for learners, Megan appreciates her freedom of time as she balances teaching with homeschooling her children.
She got started on Outschool easily, even though her nine-year-old knows more about technology than her. Megan joked that her young daughter was the one she turned to for most tech help - "that's only partially a joke," she said. But Megan notes that the Outschool platform is "user friendly" and she can handle the tech side of teaching despite not feeling confident with other technology.
The live online course format is the best of both worlds. Unlike traditional online classes, which are often asynchronous and text-based, Megan has found it fulfilling to teach live to Outschool learners because she can engage with them in the moment. "It's really rewarding because you get immediate feedback from the kids," she says about Outschool's live format.
The early challenges of online teaching
Although Megan currently has over 150 parent reviews, with dozens and dozens of five-star reviews, her initial attempts at teaching on Outschool were difficult. She highlights a few roadblocks she encountered and how she got around them:
Developing an authentic teacher persona was an initial struggle for Megan because she had never taught online classes before Outschool. She experimented with ways to keep learners engaged in the live video format. "I describe it like a performance art because you have to reach and engage the kids, but it has to be authentic." She says the feedback from learners led her to develop a teaching persona that works for her.
Finding a successful class idea also required experimentation and reflection. When Megan developed the idea for a Goosebumps literature course, she was sure it would be a hit. "I thought, "Kids'll love it" she says about her planning process. After enrollment in the class was low, she was disappointed but learned a valuable lesson about her own interests and those of learners. She has since found her stride teaching her extremely popular Dungeons and Dragons classes.
For Megan, cultivating a useful mindset is about realizing "there are going to be other people teaching the thing that you teach, and that's perfectly fine." With the growing number of learners and classes on Outschool, Megan said she doesn't view other teachers as competitors. When she sees other teachers offering classes similar to hers, she knows it's a positive for everyone. "It will probably help because that kid is interested in the subject and they might take [my class] afterwards," she said.
Aside from the challenges of getting started and the success she has experienced since then, one idea about Outschool emerges above the rest: friendship. Megan has taught learners from around the world, and she loves how learners in her classes develop real friendships lasting beyond class.
"I have these learners that have bonded over six weeks, wanting to exchange emails and information. They've made friends across the globe that they want to keep in touch with." In her roles as homeschooling mom, Dungeons and Dragons teacher, and international connector, Megan has found a home teaching on Outschool.
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