Summertime… And the Livin’ is Easy…
Unless you’re an online ESL teacher. Where are the students?
This is actually simple… if you take the time to think it through.
The students are still enrolled… but they are booking fewer classes.
Why? They’re booking fewer classes because they are studying for exams. China has a long and storied testing culture going back thousands of years (check out Little Soldiers by Lenora Chu, that’s an affiliate link btw). These tests are serious, the parents are serious, and the students (even the littles) are, too.
There are more teachers available.
During the school year, many brick and mortar teachers limit the number of hours they teach online. After all, they have to sleep sometime. Well, school’s out in this hemisphere, and those teachers are opening up lots more slots. At the same time, we have a downturn in the number of classes being booked.
So, it’s not so much that we have more teachers or fewer students as that there is a redistribution of the classes being taken.
They’re overhiring. (I, respectfully, disagree.)
- Companies need to hire to get ready. Not to be ready. Okay, here’s how it is. In July, the kids will be out of school. Parents will want them to be taking classes. If an ESL company waits until July to do the hiring, potential teachers will be bogged down in mock classes and certification processes instead of available to teach those students.
- Not all times are peak demand – and I don’t mean 7-9 PM BJT, here. Some times of year are super high demand. There are times of the year when companies consistently offer incentives on top of all their normal incentive pay. Open 28 PPT slots this week, get an extra $XX! That’s because they aren’t able to meet the demand of parents during those peak hours at peak times of the year. Companies need to find a balance between having enough (or as close as they can get) during those super high demand months. If they don’t’ have enough teachers during those times, then they have actually under-hired.
June is one of those times of year – like Chinese New Year – when students and families in China are just busy doing other things. No worries. They’ll be back, refreshed and ready to go in a few weeks.
P.S. What do I do this time of year? Change it up.
- Add another company. Maybe your company caters to parents with a specific educational goal. If you’re only filling half your available time, maybe this is an opportunity to seek out a chance to teach for another company that take a different approach and fill those empty hours.
- Try different class times.
- Last year, I taught seven days a week. That worked, but man, it was a drag not having a day off.
- This year, I’m teaching Friday and Saturday nights (Saturday and Sunday mornings in China). Every.single.class has filled during my June Fridays and Saturdays. Bonus: I’m meeting new students who don’t take class during my morning hours, and re-connecting with former students who developed schedule conflicts.
- Sharpen my ax. I take workshops, read books, rethink my strategies for everything from props to prep.
I’m Sandra Girouard, and I’ve been blessed with a long teaching career – first as a music teacher, then an instructional technology manager. When my family’s needs meant traveling and later moving around the country, I began the adventure of homeschooling and eventually working online. Teaching online has allowed me to return to passion my of working with children (besides my own), and lets me spend time each day with students and parents at home and across the world. If you’d like some specific feedback on increasing your bookings or have any other questions about teaching ESL online, I’d love to hear from you. Click here to send me a message.