In the throws of self-isolation, many of my online teacher friends began buzzing about a ‘new’ company. I say ‘new’ because it’s been around several years, but has boomed like crazy since this revolution of digital learning happening in these uncertain times. It is called Outschool. This company began for supplemental home school instruction. Now the demand for online educators has boomed so now hiring with Outschool has too!
I was at first very skeptical, after trying to find several online teaching companies the past few years. All, until this summer, ending with disappointment in failed launches or hiring freezes. Foolishly, I thought some other paths had opened only to be frozen along with many hiring opportunities due to COVID. At this point, in my worst slump since quitting public school, I made an account with Outschool.
I am happy to report that it is slow going, but has been a teaching Renaissance for me.
What is it?
Unlike many popular online education companies, Outschool is an American company. That’s right, all help and troubleshooting is coordinated in the good ole USA! It also hires all teachers as independent contractors. However, the perimeters are much more flexible than VIPKid and many other companies. For example, if you have to cancel, you simply offer to reschedule or refund your students with no effect on your employment status.
Outschool launches all classes through zoom on their learning website. It also provides a space to advertise classes, promote yourself with a teacher profile, and refer students as well as other educators. They take 30 percent of profits from each class that is turned around to maintain the platform as well as advertise teacher classes with Facebook Ads. Teachers are paid weekly via PayPal.
The World is Your Zoom Classroom: Customization of Courses
It is first important to understand that the teachers create their own classes on Outschool. So unlike following a designated ESL Curriculum you can teach whatever you have experience or expertise. This company is so much more than ESL. Classes come in all forms from painting nails to book clubs.
Getting past the course content themselves, teachers get to choose the amount of students in each class, the ages, the price, times, and even length. They can pre-record content for a flex class or host a one time 30 minute story time. The coursework team at Outschool does approve each class or give recommendations to edit the class before approval. They will also give a recommendation on price versus length, etc.
The biggest pro for Outschool is all hours in a day or night can be used as teaching times. While many of the students are American, they have a base of students all over the world. This was such a draw to someone who has been waking up between 3:30-4:30 AM for over 2 years.
The opportunity to cancel classes without penalty is also a big benefit. They even allow teachers to set cancellation policies for students as well in their class! There is also no minimum or maximum limit to teaching hours.
My biggest con with Outschool is all the course prep needed to create a class. From concept to creation, it very well could go unpaid without students enrolling. I will be the first to say only one of my 4 created courses has had students enroll. However, I am once again the new profile in a sea of amazing teachers.
I also think the course scheduler is a bit clunky and you need to take great care when scheduling classes close together or on the same days.
As I mentioned above, it is great to have more class time availability. However, this still does not mean that classes will book during these times. I am still working a day job at the library, and can only teach weekends and evenings. Trying to schedule at these times has not been successful for me.
Ready To Get Started? Here’s How!
A teaching license is not required for Outschool. However, it is important to have expertise in what you will teach. So if you grew up in Brazil, you probably have the skills to teach beginner and intermediate Portuguese. There is a demand for arts, science, and many other specialties.
Outschool hiring process has become longer than it was back in spring of 2020. My hiring process took about 2 weeks in June. It entails filling out an application with your experience, classes you can teach, and other general biographical information. Then you will film a 3-5minute demo. If you pass this stage you will be asked to fill out a background check. Once the background check is approved, you can create a one time class for approval. If you do not pass, you will be given tips and allowed to try again.
My good friends Lauren and Lisa have some great resources available as well. I have linked them below.
But What In the World Will I Teach?!
What to teach is a bit overwhelming to decide when starting out. I floundered around for a few weeks after getting hired wondering where to start. It is worse if you have a variety of degrees, work experiences, or interests. It is important to have a general idea before applying in order to recommend classes you would like to teach in the application process.
I began by writing a list of possible ideas and things I have taught in the past. Then, I took a look at the weekly parent request list on the Outschool website. (You can look without being on the platform here.).
Once you create an account, you also get a parent account whether you have kids or not. I look to see what is available as well using my parent account. This way I can see if I am duplicating multiple classes or can put my own spin on some topics floating around.
I decided to begin with my roots as a school librarian and created a class featuring my pet hedgehogs and a story. I call it Hedgehog Story Time. My other classes include a chat about Siamese Cats (inspired by a parent request and my 2 new Siamese mix kittens), a genealogy research class, and a basic ESL practice class.
The more classes I create, the more I think of and hope to launch seasonal specific classes from October to December.
Let Your Learners Benefit Too
In closing, I not only invite my fellow teacher friends, but students as well. Here is my referral link to get 20 dollars off your first lesson! Take advantage of all the talented teachers and creative courses for every interest. If you don’t see it, I recommend you request it!
What are your Outschool questions?