Finding Overseas Higher Ed Teaching Jobs

20140613-094657-35217041.jpgMy wife has traveled significantly more than I have.  Her father ran an international design firm and as such there was a bit of travel for her when she was younger.  My longer term goal is to explore the world.  And I’ve developed a small obsession.  A certain Wikipedia page. The “Lists of Universities and Colleges by Country” it is addicting to look through the list of countries and to daydream..  Clicking through to the “employment opportunities” for the different universities in exotic and not so exotic locations and see what foreign professor jobs are posted.

Although teaching online is a great way to gain some ability to travel and break ties to a specific part of the world, another way is to find a position in one of those exotic locations where you could be the foreigner for a year or three and really immerse yourself in the culture.

For our situation it’s a bit unrealistic now since we are both have young children from previous marriages with the custody orders that come with such a situation so our focus is to find online teaching opportunities and gain some more local nomadic abilities.  But the children are getting older.   They certainly share our unrequited wanderlust.  Maybe they’ll end up deciding to look for an overseas university themselves when the time comes.

Still the Wikipedia page for “Lists of Universities and Colleges by Country” is a great resource for those looking to find a job as a university professor in another country or state.

If you could teach anywhere..  Where would you choose and why?

 

Where to Apply for Online Teaching Jobs?

20140217-153643.jpgAs I wrap up my doctoral program I realize that I have a few options.  With the underlying goal of being a Nomadic Teacher I know I want those options to focus if possible on working remotely.

Part of my efforts will of course be in continuing to do Instructional Design work both for others and on a few projects of my own.  As well as working toward finding full time work as an online professor.  I know that these positions are rare so I have begun my efforts in focusing on most of the remote positions available.  I have subscribed to the Job Lead service from “The Babb Group” which I highly recommend, and I have a job alert set up with Higher Ed Jobs which has been helpful.  But as I visited the websites for different universities I realized that many of them had an Adjunct Pool and didn’t advertise adjunct positions.  I decided to take a systematic approach to my search.

I’ve logged onto the website for the National Center for Educational Statistics and generated a list of all of the US Colleges and Universities with at least 1 student taking all of their classes exclusively via distance education.  My thought of course being if there are students taking courses via distance education then there clearly must be professors teaching via distance education.

After a bit of fun in the spreadsheet app I have I sorted the list by the total number of distance education students.   Then thinking that the most likely schools to have a need for online teachers would be the ones with the highest populations of distance education students I sorted the list by the number of distance learners and then went by hand to find the website address for the top 150, and the Human Resources website for the top 150.. I found all but two.

Now I have a list I have something to work with.  To both check the job boards, and also to check the HR websites for each of the schools, identify where to send “unsolicited” CV’s if they don’t advertise adjunct positions, and to gather the information on the schools that would be most compatible with me.

Below is a video I made that will walk you though how to generate the same list for yourself in your quest to find an online teaching job.

However if that looks like too much work you can click here to purchase the very lists you saw created in the video so that you can start to systematically approach colleges and universities in your own quest to become a nomadic teacher.  Best of luck !

Getting out of the office

IMG_2201I work in several different locations.  I have my home office which I rarely use.  I have my back deck which I love to use and where I’m working today.  But mostly I love to roam and do my work out of the house.  Coffee shops, public parks, libraries, places with people.

The irony is that once there I put in my headphones and turn on “Relax Melodies”  to dull out the noise.  But the feeling of people around me, life, the energy that comes from being around others helps to fuel me.

There are also some quick mind tricks that can be used to keep the day flowing productively.  I have a location for doing email, a location for writing, a location for reading, a location for conference calls, etc.  by moving myself from location to location I not only get the small break I need to refresh but I also am able to build location based habits to stay focused on what needs done.

When I need to do something out of the ordinary or hit a stumbling block I’ll move on to a new spot and look at the world from that however small of a different perspective.  It seems to work for me.

There are a few co-working spaces near by but instead I keep a list of working spaces in Evernote where I break down my list of places to crack open my laptop and get some good work done usually while enjoying a pot of tea.

My list is broken down by city, with notes on each location.  Local coffee shops (not the franchises) are my favorites since they usually offer the best local flavor.  Where do you get the most work done?  Have you ever tried setting location based habits?

Remembering Yourself

20140514-093620.jpgSometimes, believe it or not, I have trouble staying motivated.  And there are times when I procrastinate.

At first I used to fight it and tell myself that I was a horrible person if I wasn’t 100% focused and in the game.   As time goes on I have been trying to be more mindful of my thoughts and forgiving of myself and letting go of the guilt of not being 100% on and focused all of the time was an important step.

One of the things that I have been finding these days is that these days most of my motivation and focus issues revolve around being physically or emotionally exhausted.  The worst is when it is a combination of the two.

This past weekend was certainly a doozie, knocked off my rocker by a conflict that was something I should have been able to let go of and not worry but my anxiety ran high, my worry overflowed, and everyone in the house was affected.  Emotionally frayed I had trouble sleeping and today I face the combination of emotional and physical exhaustion.

Today I have been mildly productive.  I have taken the syllabus for each of the summer classes and broken down all of the information in them to create a project in Asana.com for each class complete with due dates, priorities, and reminders.

20140514-093640.jpgBut there are a few things I am not motivated to do today, procrastinating.  Someone once told me that procrastination sometimes is there to tell you something is wrong, a stop gap, to force you to stop and look closely at what it is you are supposed to do and fix whatever is wrong before you move forward.

Today I was supposed to record several head shot videos for a few classes.  Today rather than find myself further exhausting myself to put out a sub-standard video I’m choosing to stop and look closely at what it is I’m supposed to do and fix what’s wrong before I move forward. I’m going to rest so that I can record quality videos later this evening or tomorrow.

Finding the balance between being 100% on and focused versus making sure that you are well rested, healthy, and properly taken care of isn’t exactly a balance.

Unless I am well rested, healthy, and properly taken care of I am unable to effectively focus and be productive.

This is one of the things I struggle with teaching online.  It is so easy to push and push and push until there is nothing left.  It is so easy to push yourself into exhaustion and crash.  But I can’t.

As hard as it is when there is work, housework, kids, and their homework.  Amid all of this that needs to be pushed through it is so easy to start with the work and forget the fuel.

In much of the Winter/Spring term I struggled and failed to keep my energy, motivation, efficiency, and focus up.  I didn’t take enough time for myself, to ensure I was rested well enough, and I allowed myself to get exhausted and ragged.  As the summer term begins I am trying to put an effort into “Remembering Myself”.

Through this effort I am hoping to see an increase in both my productivity as well as my enjoyment.  I plan on focusing on water, walking, and sleep.  Increasing the amount of all three.

What do you do to help remember yourself, to put your rest, health, and personal care are remembered so that you can have the energy to stay motivated, stay productive, be there for your family, and enjoy life?

Applying for Adjunct Positions

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I’m getting ready to apply for online adjunct teaching positions.

Given the choice I’d love to find a full time position but with my doctorate not quite earned and my educational experience limited to K12 I’m certainly going to be applying for some adjunct teaching positions.  And the bonus of course is that an online adjunct position (or 5) is perfect for the Nomadic Teacher since as long as I have my laptop, Internet access, and the ability to serve my students then I have all that I need without needing a desk in a specific location.

A surprising amount of online teaching jobs do not require a doctorate.  This is helpful since as I mentioned I won’t have my full doctorate until Christmas at the earliest.  And my wife, having two masters degrees and a graduate certificate, has made it perfectly clear that she does not want to go for her doctorate any time soon.

In addition to applying for positions myself she has asked me to help her apply for online adjunct teaching positions herself this spring.  The first step is of course ditching your resume.  Academic positions expect to see the much more detailed Academic CV.  Converting your resume into a CV is less than pleasant.  I decided to get some help.  A teach online bootcamp with CV templates and advice.  For those motivated it can be worth it to spend the money and get some professional help.  I recommend http://www.TheBabbGroup.com for the initial help with your CV if you don’t have one yet.

I’m even dreading helping my wife with her own CV so finding someone as friendly and helpful as Dr. Babb to help you with yours is well worth the money.  Out of all of her services, I recommend the bootcamp the most.  You get the most value for your money, the CV template and personalized CV review, together with the social media buildout is invaluable for someone just starting.

With my CV in hand though there is the question of WHERE to apply for online teaching jobs?  How do you find the schools?

My imperfect method was to visit the National Center for Educational Statistics and generate a list of schools that have a distance ed program and offer degrees in Education (my particular specialty being Instructional Technology and Distance Education hers is Elementary Education, Reading Instruction, and English in general).  Then prioritizing the list first by schools that are geographically close (or ones in dream locations), then I prioritized by the total number of distance education students attending the schools.

Once that was done I did a quick google search on the name of the school and the state to find their website address, then dug deeper to find the URL for their HR department or Job Board.

Now I have my list of schools to apply to.  It may seem like a hard process, but really it is just a long process.

The biggest thing is about knowing what the process is like and what you will need for materials so that you can have your application packets ready to go.

Academic CV, Transcripts, Letters of Recommendation, and Teaching Philosophy at the minimum.

Hitting the Gym

20140425-111326.jpgHitting the gym in the morning has been a goal of mine for a while.  One of my problems over the years was my long commute.  It caused a bit of weight gain, and by a little weight gain I mean 60 Lbs of weight gain over the four years of driving an hour and a half each way.  I have been doing my best to take care of my health and to correct those mistakes.  But when you are working from home and don’t have a set schedule how do you make sure you get to the gym each day, or even just exercise each day?

The key is to build your own schedule.  Decide and commit.

My personal commitment is to wake up earlier then the rest of the house and get started on my day.  The acceptance of how children awake and in the house means I’m unable to do my work makes this an important consideration.  It means I can either work late at night or early in the morning.  Unfortunately for me I work better in the morning, I wish I was a night owl.  Unfortunately because if you’re going to wake up earlier then anyone else in the house you need to commit the night before, and each night before.  There in lies the challenge.

How to consistently get to bed early enough to wake up early enough to get meaningful work done before anyone else wakes up?

Me I’ve scheduled a reminder for myself to go to bed, it doesn’t always work but that’s the joy of working from home.  The Flexibility to adapt.

How do you deal with your work at home flexibility?  How do you adapt to the needs for physical fitness?

The 7 ways I deal with teaching online when the kids are home for Vacation Week

collage of a mid day breakThis is school vacation week for the boys.  My two are with us full time and my step son is with his father this week.  Also this week my wife is doing some contract work for a local educational consulting firm.  Dealing with the challenges of children while working form home has been well a challenge.  But these are the steps that I have taken to handle maintaining my productivity as well as being a father at the same time.

The biggest challenge is to remember that you’re only human and not to feel bad about needing to do work and not to feel bad about needing to be a parent.

  1. Getting up early:  Getting up early is my usual strategy for teaching and designing from home with a family.  Lets face it family is exhausting and demanding.  A big part of my strategy has been to avoid the whole conflict and just get up a few hours earlier then everyone else when I have things I need to do.  It works wonders.  When people start calling for your attention at 9 or 10 am it’s much easier to meet the needs of your family with grace when you’ve already put in four or five hours of solid uninterrupted work down.
  2. Segregate yourself:  When it’s just my wife and I working form home one of the things we like to do is to roam from coffee shop to coffee shop.  With the warmer weather I also like to roam from park to park.  With kids though having the challenge of entertaining them when you are out is difficult.  So I’ve been putting myself on the back deck on nice days and in my office on the not so nice days.  This of course works better when you have older children.
  3. Break up the day with kid focused time:  This week seems to be all about going to the pool at the health club and riding bikes for my boys.  So each day in the morning I try to get out and go for a 4-5 mile bike ride with them, then after lunch I try to get them to the pool.  This way I can work in the points in between and when they try to interrupt I can point at the clock and remind them.. “I need to get as much done as possible before 9am so we can go for our ride.”
  4. Let go of TV guilt:  I’m the first one to say I hate television and we cut the cord a long time ago, but there are times that I do allow the TV to “babysit” my kids.  Now I am on the other side of a sliding glass door so I can see them, and we’ve cut the cord so they are only able to watch pre-approved video but when it comes down to it sometimes you need to let them be.  Just remember the more efficient you are and the less interrupted you are the faster you can get outside with them.
  5. Put them to work:  Even jobs as simple as running to the printer to collect what you’ve printed, getting you a glass of water, these little things when accompanied with  genuine gratitude and acknowledgment can help them feel useful and feel more in control with how quickly you can finish your work and focus on them.
  6. Have a mandatory stop time:  Especially older kids can benefit from knowing what your “stop time” is.  I strive for noon and the boys know that if they help me focus on my work come noon they will have me to themselves.
  7. Communicate:  Even small children realize that work needs to be done.  Let them know what you are doing, why it is important, and when your next break is.

 

 

 

Location Independence

Teaching online is a fantastic way to develop location independence and have the ability to travel anywhere and truly be nomadic.  Many digital nomads are teaching online, both within the formal educational system or teaching their own workshops.  This is of course my personal goal with Nomadic Teacher and with teaching online in general.

Before we cut the lines and sail off on our travels we do have a bit of a wait.  With two of us having children from previous marriages we are bound a bit by the location we were when we were divorced.  At least until the youngest two turn 18 in another 8 years.  That is plenty of time for us to make sure we have secured our location independence and we do have some flexibility within our current situation that we put to work for ourselves.

We both have work areas in the house, we both try to keep a flexible schedule, and wonder about and work in random coffee shops around Southern Maine and Southern New Hampshire.  That way we can keep the nomadic teacher lifestyle of freedom and independence while still keeping a home base to keep the courts happy (you of course never get the courts unhappy ever). 

I enjoyed a bit of that freedom and independence today, instead of walking the kids to school we rode our bikes, after they were at school I kept going.  Riding my first ride of the spring I realized it was still just a tad too cold for riding in the mornings.  No podcast, no audiobook, no student work, no conference call, no course development… just the wind.  And it was being still just a tad too cold for riding in the morning a wind it was.  It’s been three hours and I don’t think my fingers have recovered.

I am very much looking forward to the warmer weather and think I will need to bring my bike back and forth to the lake this summer and scope out some outdoor venues that have Wi-Fi.  With eight years to decide on our first longer stay venue we have time to look but should also enjoy leveraging the nomadic lifestyle here at home.

There are different aspects of location independence.  The hardest for most people to get is that location independent source of income, after that it’s usually the courage to go for it.  For us we’ve got those licked, and just need for the legal location independence which has its date.. June 2022.  

There are also different mindsets of the nomadic lifestyle.  And we do our teaching as shorter range nomads, which works well for us in our current circumstances.

So whatever you think is going to make becoming a Nomadic Teacher impossible is probably not a permanent obstacle and none of us should ever give up or lose hope.  There is always a way.  And every step is a step.  Do what you can and enjoy your freedom.

Finding Work – Vs – Building Work

20140310-172336.jpgOver the past few months I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between finding work and building work.

Online teachers seem to fit into one or more of three basic employment categories.  Full/part time Employees, Independent Contractors, or Entrepreneurs (Edu-preneurs?).  Mixing things up with working for an formal school K12, University, Community College, working for companies, or designing their own unaffiliated courses.

These days unless you are a full time employee then health insurance is a concern for those based in the USA.  With the recent changes to the law it is now much easier to find and afford health coverage which raises a new and very exciting question.

Is it better to mix things up?  How would you want to structure yourself?  Do you still want to hunt down a full time online teaching job at a stable university?  Do you want to adjunct for 3-4 different universities and broaden your influence while driving your own research agenda without the need for politics?  Do you want to strike out on your own, develop your own set of courses or professional workshops and rake in that much more money?

I am personally finding myself more drawn to the latter.  As I finish my doctorate this year I am feeling that there might be more security in having a combination of several teaching positions between several schools in addition to a set of my own online workshops.  What do you think, has the new availability of affordable health care changed your online teaching goals?  Are you feeling the entrepreneurial pull as strongly as I am ? 

Where do you work best?

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One of the challenges of being a Nomadic Teacher is discovering the best routine, and where you work best.  That is something I am struggling with.  I honestly prefer to work in silent places, meet people in coffee shops, and my wife who is also a Nomadic Teacher LOVES the noise of a coffee shop when working, and when not in a noisy environment she will talk to herself while she works and ask a tremendous amount of rhetorical, keep her on track, questions that I often falsely interoperate as questions for me.  My solution is that wherever I am, my headphones are never far.  I keep a playlist called “Working” which only includes instrumentals or music in other languages so that I can stay focused (yes I am that easily distracted).

Today and many days I end up trying to see how much I can get finished at home on the dining room table before anyone else is up.. well that’s the plan at least until the snow melts.  Then it’s on the back deck all the way.  So this is where I’m working from today. Outlining course materials, procrastinating writing a Syllabus, and avoiding recording an audio lesson on how educators can leverage Aggregators.  I’ll get it all done though.  And all before the kids get home this afternoon.

So where do you work best?  Kitchen Table, Coffee Shop, Library, Park Bench, Aft Deck of a Sailboat (that last one is my personal goal).