Virtual Assistants: Do Teachers Need A HUMAN VA? Yes! And Here Is Why

Do Teachers Need a Virtual Assistant? Yes! And Here Is Why
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As a teacher, you might have to take care of many things while working, including quite a few that are boring, repetitive, and out of your skillset, such as scheduling meetings and filling out tons of paperwork. As a result, you may end up wasting a lot of time on things that could have quickly been taken care of by someone else.

While you can use some software to make your life a little bit easier, you may also hire somebody to take care of such menial tasks for you.

Yes, it’s true, we’re entering the era of generative AI where many of said menial tasks can be done by software. Still, to date, no Google Gemini, no Claude and no ChatGPT 4 —maybe ChatGPT 5?— can be counted on as a dependable human who will look after your business.

If you would like to explore the idea of getting just a bit of human help, hiring a Virtual Assistant might a road worth taking.

Below, you will find a list of things that you should know before hiring a Virtual Assistant. Interested?

Why a Virtual Assistant in the ‘Age of AI’

A Virtual Assistant is a professional who works remotely for clients from virtually every industry, including giant corporations, small businesses, and independent entrepreneurs. Hiring one might also be highly beneficial for teachers, as they usually have lots of things on their hands.

The role of a Virtual Assistant is to help people with their business and personal tasks by providing administrative support in the forms of bookkeeping, social media management, customer service, accounting, data entry, and other administrative tasks.

Virtual Assistants can help you organize your teaching day, down to your weekly lesson plans. They can even be a big help in creating and running key elements of your online courses.

Some tasks can be automated, either by using Google Calendar, Zapier, Trello or specialized and industry-specific tools, say dental appointment reminder software. Still, even though technology can make our lives easier, sometimes a real person that can pay special attention to tasks at hand can be the delightful organizing extra hand you never know you needed.

Enter generative AI. Even the most optimistic about the power of the new chatbots and tools we have at our fingertips are aware that they haven’t reached human levels of awareness. Which does not mean AI can’t become an ally. As the modern workplace truism goes, “AI will not replace you, but someone who knows AI will,” you can turn it into your advantage and make sure you find a VA who knows how to turn AI in your favor.

So to drive the point of allies-not-enemies across, let’s make a quick list of things AI can help with, to you or your VA; and whether or not a VA is still needed, should you make a current AI work:

Task TypeCan AI helpIs a VA still needed
Appointments, Scheduling, Calendar managementYesUnclear
If you need to coordinate calendars with others, AI skills are experimental at best
Traveling planning, Itinerary designYesYes
AI can help with ideas, but fully fledged booking capabilities aren’t there yet
Handling questions and requests, offer supportYesYes
We hope? Students can get their own AIs to answer questions; the teacher experience should offer more than that
Create contentYesYes
One of AI’s most worrisome concern is hallucination. Someone needs to check everything AI-generated before students
Create reportsYesLikely yes
Compiling data is AI’s bread and butter, as long as the process is straightforward. Otherwise the hallucination issue may come into play
Translate contentYesLikely yes
Better-sounding translations are another strength of modern gen AI; but again, always good to double-check
Generate drafts, brainstormYesNo*
The asterisk is intentional, as this is an example of a “half-task” which is really an input for something else. (Not a bad way to describe current gen AI)
Provide emotional support, motivate, inspireNo*Yes, if qualified
Admittedly, there are known instances of humans feeling better interacting with machines rather than other humans
Demonstrate empathyNoYes
Oversee complex projectsNoYes
Build relationshipsYesYes
AI can help you build comprehensive datasets of details about people you care about. But it can’t ship them a thoughtful birthday gift yet
Negotiate contractsNo*Yes
But here’s anecdotal evidence to contract negotiation automation
Take responsibility for a decision, represent you, make decisions on you behalfNoProbably not
Never lose sight of the extent of responsibility you hand over to a VA
You’re better off befriending both people and machines

Nowadays, hiring Virtual Assistants is becoming more and more popular and common. Reasons range from their flexibility in terms of working hours and location, as well as their ability to provide high-quality services at lower rates than most other professionals.

Emerging countries with competitive salaries and good English proficiency are excellent pools of talent for top performing virtual assistants. The Philippines and Latin America are common sources of knowledgeable and service-oriented professionals.

Who hires Virtual Assistants

People from all walks of life hire Virtual Assistants! Here is a starting, non-comprehensive list:

  • entrepreneurs,
  • small businesses,
  • corporations,
  • freelancers,
  • stay-at-home parents.

Lately, teachers have joined the group, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to conduct online classes. In many cases, to never look back!

Are you a teacher? Here’s how a Virtual Assistant helps you

  • It saves you time. Virtual Assistants can help you save time by taking care of the less critical tasks you would otherwise have to waste your time on. You will be able to focus on your core activities while leaving the rest to your Virtual Assistant. Not the least of it, it allows you to spend more time with your student. Plus, you will have more free time on your hands for self care.
  • It can save you money. Hiring a Virtual Assistant can be one of the most rewarding decisions you can make from an ROI standpoint, especially when you consider how much time and wellness you sacrifice while dealing with all your responsibilities by yourself. Overall, it is much cheaper to hire a Virtual Assistant to take care of some of your tasks than to try to manage them all at once, wasting precious time —and piece of mind— you could spend earning money in some other way.
  • It can help your students. Every teacher wants to see their students thrive. Getting a Virtual Assistant might help you get there. As Virtual Assistants can answer routine, frequently asked questions and post weekly announcements, they are one of the best options to help your students grow without overwhelming yourself by trying to answer every student’s concerns. Plus: With the right learning analytics solution, a Virtual Assistant can be on top of performance events and help you address them.
  • It can increase your efficacy. Being an effective educator is all about achieving the goal of quality learning for each individual student. Efficiency, on the other hand, is the ability to make the most of your limited resources, none of which is more precious than your time. With a Virtual Assistant you can achieve both. An extra pair of hands will definitely help you meet your deadlines, manage your workload and perhaps face more ambitious challenges.

Skills, responsiveness, autonomous care: What to look for in a Top Performing Virtual Assistant

Top Virtual Assistants need a mix of specific skills that will allow you to get the most out of working with one.

For Joan Francisco, Top Rated Virtual Assistant with over 8,000 hours logged thus far and a 100% success rate on UpWork, success comes from understanding the task at hand as much as the client’s true concerns and higher goals:

«Being a Virtual Assistant for almost 4 years, has given me first-hand knowledge of how entrepreneurs take care of their business. Valuing that knowledge, I am able to provide services and support that will help them focus on their growth. My first aim is to always build a good relationship and earn their trust.

»I believe that Virtual Assistants can play a great role in the life of a teacher, to help with their day-to-day activities, understand their needs, and deliver the best results possible. Teaching is a wonderful activity, it has inspired me to learn more and be more supportive, especially when it comes to the use of educational technologies. Having an assistant will keep teachers more focused and productive, and will also give you tools to be more resourceful, creative and effective in the classroom.» — Joan F.

Some of the essential skills that a Virtual Assistant should have are:

  • Communication skills. A Virtual Assistant needs to be able to communicate clearly and appropriately with their clients. This way, they will be able to provide high-quality services every time and avoid misunderstandings. You will notice that a top performing assistant will not be afraid to ask a lot of clarifying questions, right at the start and throughout the working relationship.
  • Time management skills. You would not want a Virtual Assistant who is unreliable or disorganized, would you? As such, an essential quality of a good Virtual Assistant is having superb time management skills. You will be able to identify a top performer if they provide accurate timelines, or provide educated ETA guesses for more complex projects, and proactively updating them.
  • Dedication. Virtual Assistants must be dedicated in order to get work done on time. If they are not genuinely committed to their job, they will not bring any value to your business. Top performing assistants can handle multiple clients and stay on top of your concerns, making you always feel a priority.
  • Sound general skills + excelling at specialized ones. On top of general-purpose skills like the ones mentioned above, your Virtual Assistant should be knowledgeable  in the specific areas for which you require help. Ideal skills for Virtual Assistants in education may range from general curriculum and elearning software knowledge, all the way up to interactivity design or pedagogy. 
  • Stress tolerance. Every once in a while, there will be tasks that require a lot more time and effort than you had initially expected. In cases like these, your Virtual Assistant should be able to handle it without causing issues. Some assistants can be available for short-notice tasks, or be quick thinkers to solve new issues in the allotted time. But top performers can even help you plan for your long term game to stop seeing teaching as an endless series of fires you’re putting off.
  • Tech-savviness. It almost goes without saying: Virtual Assistants must be tech-savvy so that they can handle whatever technology-related tasks your business requires. In today’s day and age, a savvy Virtual Assistant will be knowledgeable about tech in ways that increase productivity and quality; and at the same time keep you safe from the perils of digital life.

How much do Virtual Assistants charge?

The payment for Virtual Assistants depends on what they do and how much experience they have. A quality Virtual Assistant hourly rate can run anywhere between $5 and $50. Rates of course can vary depending on many factors, including the country where they live, their level of education and expertise, the tasks they perform for their clients, the methods they use for completing tasks, and their level of commitment. Short-notice availability can increase your rates, but you can negotiate a lower fee for a long-term relationship, even with a retainer. Performance bonuses can be a good idea to motivate your assistant and keep your finances in check.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant

The easiest way to hire a Virtual Assistant is by going online. You can find numerous Virtual Assistants online who are ready to help you with your tasks, and it is easy to narrow down your options based on skills, location, and price. Ask a few key short questions too to gauge their approach to problem solving, resourcefulness and ensuring project success. Just make sure to do your research to pick the right person for the job.

Freelance portals or good old word-of-mouth could help you filtering out the noise. For professionals looking for online opportunities beyond their countries, becoming a VA could represent a very enticing opportunity. More often than not this works as the perfect incentive towards upskilling, dependability and reputation. Unfortunately, there will be a number of applicants looking to overstate their values. Pay attention at history of performance, ratings, portfolio and other signals. Distrust a profile that looks a little too perfect.

Do not expect to find the perfect candidate in a short notice. It does not matter if you’re just looking for small, localized help for a short period of time: Always aim for a long-running relationship. Paid trials are common ways to assess on-the-job performance. A good idea is to pick a couple —3 is a good rule of thumb— candidates and split responsibilities among them for the trial, even parts of the same task to get more comparable outputs.

In Conclusion

Virtual Assistants can be a fantastic help to all teachers. They are more readily available and more affordable than you might think. Because they can take care of time-consuming tasks and let you focus on what matters most to you, they save you time, money and peace of mind.

Before you make someone your Virtual Assistant, don’t be afraid to feel them out. With paid tests they can start helping you in short notice before you decide to commit to working with one. Check the candidate’s score, experience, dedication and specialized knowledge. Ultimately, finding the right Virtual Assistant can be a total professional game changer.

Disclaimer: Joan Francisco has been a contributor for eLearn Magazine.

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