We all know that success in online teaching includes the ability to multitask. We also know that there are days when discussions, grading, phone calls, and text messaging add up to more than 12 hours a day at the desk. My friends often said they could tell who taught online. Online teachers had pasty-colored skin from lack of sunshine and wide buttocks from sitting so long. With this in mind, I kept a time schedule and decided that efficiency would make my life easier and more productive AND I would have more time to go to the pool and exercise.
In 2008, I bought a new home and designed my office so I could be productive. I have my laptop stationed in the middle of my desk with two monitors on either side on an arm from the wall and my small TV above on the wall.
This is how I use the three screens.
- Generally, my email is always up on the left screen. I do my posting and grading on the laptop in the middle.
- My right monitor has posties of what I need to do and the priority.
- When I grade papers, I put my gradebook on monitor one and grade at the laptop, which is monitor two.
- I have a subscription to GradeAssist for APA comments and my own comments on writing in TypeItIn. These are comments that are based on general writing errors. This gives me more time to personalize and comment on content using Dragon Naturally Speaking.
I was happy with this set up until I realized that I spent too many hours sitting. I looked around for ideas and found many. There are set ups that allow for standing up and working on a laptop while on the treadmill or elliptical. They have bikes that do this, too. With a bad knee, these were not practical for me. Then I found the one that would help me the most. It was a portable elliptical that can be used standing up but has no bars; it also can be used sitting down. The pedals are large enough to hold the feet in place, and there is a step counter that also tells mileage, and time. In addition, there is a tension button.
My first worry was that my knees would hit the desk while I pedaled, and they did. So I pulled the piece halfway out from under my desk. It worked!!
The first day of use was a bit awkward in that I had to remember to pedal. By day three, I automatically sat at my office chair and pedaled the whole time, clocking over 15,000 steps. By the end of the week, when I sat in any chair, my feet would check for the pedals and they would not be there. That is when I knew I was hooked. I have it set at a medium tension at this time. My legs are much stronger, and I feel as though I at least do something on those days I just cannot leave home—Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednesdays for me.
As for the pasty skin—well, I bought a convertible and jaunt around during the day with the top down. I also, take my breaks outside on the deck and do my reading and writing there with an iced tea and my Dragon Naturally Speaking.
Ten years ago when I traveled an hour and a half each way to low-performing schools as a curriculum specialist, I would not have dreamed that someday I would be teaching online in my favorite sweats of the day sipping coffee and pedaling through all the APA mistakes that crossed my screen. I love my job!