Candace Bui-Watson of Minooka had already transitioned into teaching remote by the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Bui-Watson of Minooka, a single mother, began teaching math to ninth grade students in Georgia, via the Elevate K-12 platform, a company that livestreams instruction into classrooms and says on its website it can help solve teacher shortages.
This year, Bui-Watson teaches four math classes to six grade students in Georgia.
A friend told to Bui-Watson, a former teacher in Chicago, about the opportunity to teach via the Elevate K-12 platform. Bui-Watson made the transition in January 2020, before the pandemic and before area schools adopted hybrid or remote learning programs.
The Elevate K-12 platform works very well, she said.
“I actually really, really enjoy it,” Bui-Watson said.
Bui-Watson said was a high school math teacher in Chicago from 2006 to 2010. She returned to school for her master’s degree in general administrative leadership and became an assistant principal in 2012.
By then, Bui-Watson had a newborn son and a preschool daughter. Bui-Watson typically left home at 5 a.m. and didn’t return until after 7 p.m.
“It was a lot of time away from my kids,” Bui-Watson recalled. “My daughter cried every day. So I decided in 2014 to walk away from the job.”
Bui-Watson did some math tutoring for a while. But her business rapidly grew. Soon, Bui-Watson was back to having not time with her children again, she said.
So then Bui-Watson used her education degree to teach a summer camp and some online graduate courses and to run a coaching program for business people.
“I was always involved in education,” Bui-Watson said.
But Bui-Watson missed classroom teaching. Bui-Watson feels Elevate K-12 helped her balance her home and work life.
Last year, before COVID, Bui-Watson’s students actually gathered in a real classroom overseen by a paraprofessional, she said. The students had laptops. Bui-Watson could see them, and they could see her.
Bui-Watson even had a “whiteboard” that the students could also see and “write on,” too, she said. It’s also easier to engage with the students, too.
For instance, Bui-Watson might turn her laptop to the window in winter so her students can see the snow, something they don’t experience in Georgia, she said.
“I can’t see going back to traditional teaching,” Bui-Watson said. “This fits my lifestyle much better.”
Bui-Watson said she doesn’t have to take time off work when her children, who are now 13 and 9, are sick. She can take them to their activities and short trips and not miss work. All Bui-Watson needs for her job is a laptop, Wi-Fi and a quiet room, she said.
Her last class of the day ends at 2 p.m.
“If it’s a nice day, I can go hiking,” Bui-Watson said. “Not a lot of people can say that.”
Now in this role, Bui-Watson is an independent contractor and not an employee. She doesn’t nor receive benefits and she makes less money than she did in a traditional teaching role, she added.
But Bui-Watson only teaches. Classroom management is not her responsibility, and neither is communicating with the teachers. Her class sizes have ranged from 14 to 20 students. When Bui-Watson taught in Chicago, the average number of students in a classroom was 28, she said.
“I wish more schools looked into this platform,” Bui-Watson said.
It’s not true that traditional classroom teachers have the summer off, Bui-Watson said. Administrators work year-round, she said. When she was a teacher, she taught summer school, she added.
“I never had a summer off until I decided to work for myself,” Bui-Watson said.
For more information, visit elevatek12.com.
Source: The Daily Chronicle