California University of Pennsylvania

Cal U Alumna creates her own online classrooms

Someone who excels in the real world.
That is what Emily Behm has become, thanks to her personal lesson plan for success — use an entrepreneurial spirit, technological know-how and a passion for teaching to carve a unique path.  

Behm, a 2019 graduate of Cal U with a bachelor's degree in childhood education, pre-K to grade 4, has used that blueprint to chart a unique career path as the creator of Learning with Emily and a contributor to Outschool, an online learning platform.  

Learning with Emily provides tutoring for children of all ages, specializing in writing, literacy, and other early childhood education concepts. As an accomplished musician, Behm also provides piano and music theory lessons for children and adults. 

“I was at a crossroads in January, trying to decide whether I'd take a semester off before starting graduate school at Cal U," Behm said. “I was substitute teaching, but as much as I loved that, I was looking for something else."  

Learning with Emily offered in-person instruction until March, when she moved operations online as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.  

“I was pleasantly surprised at how many students decided to stick with it, even piano students," she said. A technological symphony, of sorts, including virtual keyboards, Zoom and Messenger calls, and even duets recorded separately have kept her musicians on track.  

More recently, Behm became an instructor with Outschool, which offers a variety of classes for K-12 learners in the areas of arts, coding and technology, English, health and wellness, life skills, math, music, science and nature, social studies and world languages.  

“I was able to bring my teaching certification and strengths in literacy and music to the table," she said. As she begins her master's degree program in school counseling at Cal U, Behm is also teaching courses related to mental and emotional well being.  

“My most popular class is Emotional Awareness: All About Your Feelings and How to Cope," she said. “I've taught 200 students in just this course over the past two months."  

Her other courses are a literacy class for preschoolers and sessions dealing with grief and self-esteem.  

“Teaching certification is not required with Outschool, but the application process is rigorous," Behm said. “For a Cal U student still earning a degree, it's would be a great way to put yourself out there and gain experience in your field."  

Behm uses her personal health history to motivate and inspire her students. She was diagnosed with chiari malformation and a tethered spinal cord, both of which can cause headaches, dizziness and other physical symptoms.  

“My diagnosis is a motiving factor for me," she said. “I'm almost grateful that I have these things because I can be a voice for other people and show children and families alike with my struggle with this that you're not alone, and you can overcome it."  

While teaching online for Learning with Emily and Outschool, Behm has learned a few things herself.  

“I've always been comfortable with technology, but I find that my skills are being refined," she said.  

“I also find that I need to be clearer and more concise in my direction. As a teacher, you have to lay things out for students and then ask for understanding. I'm finding that I need to be more specific. Instead of asking if something makes sense, I maybe need to ask students to repeat directions back to me."  

She also enjoys teaching online.  

“Especially with Outschool, there are students from all areas of the world and all walks of life. I have tremendous freedom with what I teach and how I teach it, as long as it's approved through the website.  

“I was so well prepared by my professors at Cal U. They brought their own styles to their classes and I took some of that to mold myself into the teacher I want to be.  

“They prepared me to be an educator but also a member of society and someone who excels in the real world."

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