There is a concept in science that many are probably familiar with in more colloquial terms.
“Starting energy” is normally associated with the analogy of pushing a boulder. Building the strength and power to start moving the boulder is immensely more difficult than maintaining the momentum that is needed to continue moving the boulder along.
While online teaching and education doesn’t get exponentially easier to this degree, some aspects definitely do. Obtaining online teaching positions is (thankfully) one such area where things get much easier after making the slightest budge of the boulder.
With so much of academia moving towards the online teaching medium, why does it still seem as though a select few people possess the lion’s share of jobs?
Are they smarter than their peers? Not necessarily. However, I can guarantee that many of this relatively small population has one personal attribute in common.
They are relentless
They know that esteemed academic credentialing, established research agendas, professional work in their chosen field, or any number of contributing factors and C.V. builders are not always the most useful for securing future positions.
They know that teaching experience and, specifically, online teaching experience are what program coordinators and other hiring officials immediately scanned to when reviewing their credentials.
Not having the experience, as nobody does in this chicken-and-egg scenario, by default puts you below everyone who does have experience. That’s the bad news and is just the way the game is played. Without experience, how can one work themselves into the hiring discussion when there is at least one other (experienced) applicant?
For those who are fans of college football, you are well aware of the importance that player quality and talent have on team success. Convincing the best players to play for your team is a major contributor to team success.
Unlike the NFL where each team is greatly limited in their ability to select players, especially those coming directly from the college ranks, there are far fewer hard-and-fast policies that limit college teams’ access to high school players.
The University of Alabama Crimson Tide football teams is one of the most storied college football programs in the country. Between an extremely passionate fan base, wonderful facilities and stadium, and a long history of program success, there are many ways that Alabama personnel can “sell” prospective players on the team’s virtues.
However, the one single reason why Alabama has had success over the past decade and why it continues to be the most successful program in the country…
Anyone who has paid any attention to college football over the last 15-20 years is familiar with Nick Saban and most have witnessed one of his (in)famous sideline outbursts. Ironically, many of these occur when the scoreboard reads something like Alabama: 49 Unfortunate Lesser Opponent: 3.
Why do these outbursts seem to occur when everything is going right?
Well, in Mr. Saban’s eyes, everything isn’t quite right. Reading into some of Saban’s mindsets, one quickly realizes that he is not as concerned with being “perfect” as much as he is about living up to potential. Heck, the name of one of his books is How Good Do You Want to Be? Implying that you, me, and everyone else has the potential, we just have to be willing to put in the time and effort to reach this potential.
You Have Potential. How Good Do You Want to Be?
Are you relentless about pursuing certifications and other credentials to further your current career and to make yourself more attractive to academic department heads and hiring managers?
Are you relentless about conducting your own research and publishing or presenting on your own dime in order to gain better knowledge of and to show a commitment to your field?
Are you relentless about keeping your C.V. updated and customizing it to best accentuate your experiences and accomplishments?
Are you relentless about pursuing new job leads? About creating your own job leads?
Will you be relentless about becoming the best online educator that you can be, providing your students with the highest quality of education possible while also acting as a mentor and role model?
You Can Be “Pretty Good” or You Can Fulfill Your Dreams as an Online Educator
Don’t worry. Coach Saban isn’t around to yell at you!
However, being relentless in your pursuit of getting “into the game” will lead to exponentially higher success rates than more passive approaches. By selling yourself in the same relentless manner that Mr. Saban initially “sold” his programs, long before he was able to rely on the championships or successes, you will “get in the game”. By deciding that you want to be “really good” and putting in the steps to do so, you will “dominate the game” just like Saban’s teams have done for the last decade.
Just promise me one thing…no online outbursts!