Interaction in key role in online teacher´s everyday life
Jonna Koivisto is a long-time SAMK employee. The career at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) has lasted already for over 15 years. The road started as a trainee in SAMK Continuing Education Services, continued to HR duties and then to online education. Nowadays Jonna is senior lecturer on Kuninkainen campus teaching Bachelor of Business Administration students online.
– I have been teaching in the online education team first alongside HR duties and on a full-time basis since autumn 2018.
Jonna Koivisto works as a teacher of adult working people, and it is important for her to support, encourage and coach the students. She feels that she is in customer service profession.
– My students often have the same situation in life as I do: they are combining work and family life with children. In addition, they also study. It is important to be empathetic and encouraging. My job is to create a learning path for them and guide them towards graduation, which also reflects on my interaction. I keep actively in touch with the students through different channels, so there is no lack of interaction in my work.
Online teacher´s job is a diverse one
Although teaching online enables flexible working hours, Jonna usually starts working in the morning after her children have left for primary school. The working day starts smoothly with the help of the to do-list written the day before.
– I pick tasks from the daily work list depending on how I feel. The working day ends when I have finished all the tasks I had planned for the day.
Jonna´s working day includes plenty of independent work, e.g. planning the courses, evaluating assignments, guiding the students online as well as maintaining one´s own competence.
– I also use working time on online lectures, which I give at the beginning of new courses, and on thesis seminars. I mainly work during the day, but thesis seminars are regularly organized also in the evenings.
Online teaching also includes keeping in contact and interacting with students.
– I prefer calling the students, because it is often the fastest way of dealing with matters. Moreover, in my opinion guidance for the thesis is easier to give by speaking rather than by writing e.g. emails.
Mini breaks set the rhythm for the day
It is easy to get stuck by the computer. Jonna often has 5–10 -minute mini breaks during the working day.
– During the mini breaks, I may do some household chores or pop outside in our yard to refresh myself. I almost always have lunch on my own, reading the day´s paper. It is also great that I can usually be at home to meet my children when they return home from school afternoon activities, and continue working after that.
Jonna finds it motivating to have flexible working hours.
– I can choose the task according to my own internal clock or energy level. Of course, this is not always possible, but I manage with the support from my colleagues.
Peer support from colleagues is important
Jonna has plenty of different kinds of discussions with her colleagues by Teams. The discussions deal with work, or the atmosphere can also be lightened by using humour.
– We have a good communal feeling in our team. If you are tired, or burdened by work, it helps when communicating with colleagues. Peer support or help is given quickly. Even though I´m physically at my home office, I don´t feel mentally alone.
Peaceful working conditions guaranteed by suitable individual workspace
Jonna has faced challenges in finding a good workspace. After working from home for three years, she finally has a workspace of her own.
– For the first two years, I worked at the dining room table or on the sofa, and working was often interrupted when other family members came home. In addition, ergonomics was not the best possible, even though my husband made me a stand on the table so I could work in the standing position as well.
Now Jonna has had her own workspace built upstairs, and the employer has provided her with a charging dock, a keyboard and a larger display.
– I hardly do any work elsewhere, since I enjoy my own workspace and good ergonomics. It´s a pity I didn´t know about the availability of the equipment earlier and so couldn´t take care of the matter.
Three tips for successful working from home
- A proper workspace, which is comfortable and has good ergonomics.
- Mini breaks. As there are hardly any distractions at home, it is easy to get absorbed in work. It is important to refresh one´s thinking during the day, because no one is efficient in intellectual work/brain work hour after hour.
- Tune your working day. Make your day a motivating one. It suits me to alternate between work and home tasks during the day. If it is a beautiful day, I always go out during the day.