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Developments in technology have led to a paradigm shift in the nature of work. The many benefits of telecommuting prompt more and more employers and employees to strike work from home agreeements, leveraging the power of technology. Teaching work from home ranks as a popular telecommuting job, but the nature of this job raises several unique challenges. Major work from home challenges relevant to teaching jobs are the need to adhere to rigid timing, the criticial importance of real time seamless connectivity, absence of visual cues and feedback and roadblocks to career advancement.
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Teachers working from home face the challenge of being available online fixed hours, free from all domestic distractions that usually accompany telecommuting.
A normal telecommuting job requires sacrificing the many benefits a traditional office job but the worker gets to do the required tasks at the time of their convenience as a trade-off. A home teaching job, however, requires adherence to fixed schedules, when the student also has to be online and ready to learn. In short, unlike other telecommuting job, flex-time is not an option for a teacher working from home.
Home based teachers need to be adept in cutting off domestic considerations and distractions while at work and need to sharpen their concentration powers.
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Ensuring seamless connectivity such as a high-speed Internet connection, reliable communication devices such as speakers and earphones, and backup power options are important challenges for any home-based work. Such factors become even more important for teaching work from home.
An unexpected power outage or computer breakdown for a couple of hours would at worst create a backlog for most telecommuters. A teacher, however, cannot afford to miss appointments for any reason. Even a few hours of disruption upsets schedules and could lead to a student missing an important per-exam revision.
The home-based teacher needs to acquire a high level of proficiency in technical issues to solve problems without waiting for help to arrive. Keeping a backup of instruction notes helps as does working from a friend's computer when unexepected shut downs happen.
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Absence of Visual Cues and Proper Feedback
Online tutoring leaves no time or chance to make amends, and the home based teacher faces a major challenge in understanding the student's level of attention and comprehension.
This type of work also has the disadvantage of not being able to gauge the pupil’s level of comprehension or having access to visual cues apparent in a traditional classroom. Similarly, the student might not be able to express feedback through voice or written chat as effectively as done when talking face-to-face. All of these factors tend to create a communication gap.
Home-based teachers need to make tutoring an interactive session and gauge the students level of attention and comprehension from the online chat mediums.
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A home teaching position usually limits career advancement prospects. Deprived of an active professional milieu and the chance to learn new things in an organizational setup, home-based teachers remain stuck in the same role and face the potential rustification of skills.
It takes much personal motivation and initiative from the home-based teacher’s part to remain active in professional forums, self-learn new concepts and strive for career advancement.
The inability of teachers working from home to rise up to the above work from home challenges leaves them with the danger of suffering from many telecommuting disadvantages without reaping many benefits in exchange.
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Egan, Terry, and Kurland, Nancy. “Telecommuting… Out of Sight, Out of Mind?" http://gbr.pepperdine.edu/2010/08/telecommuting-out-of-sight/. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
Image Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives