Being a self-employed teacher is, so far, flippin’ fantastic, and here’s why:
1. You don’t have to follow a boring syllabus if you don’t want to!
I have worked for schools where I have been expected to do every single activity in the book, page by page and nothing else. No videos, no worksheets and no ‘off-book’ projects. It was dull and suffocating for everyone. Often, course books are outdated as soon as they’re published and, although it’s understandable in some ways, this can make a lesson drag!
Even EnglishFile, which is one of my favourites, contains ideas or phrases that are quickly left behind, so using the 2nd or 3rd edition really does take you back in time. And unfortunately not everyone can afford the latest books or software, especially when teaching multiple levels.
Working for yourself means you can create, or follow, a syllabus that suits you and your students, whether it’s Business or General English. There are plenty of ways to make it fun whilst still teaching your students plenty of useful things.
2. You can choose your own hours.*
Enjoy your lie-ins? Work later! Want your evenings off? Work mornings!
*Okay, in theory it doesn’t always work like this. Sometimes you really do have to be flexible in order to keep your students happy, or to attract them in the first place. If they can only study over the weekend, you may have to give up a few hours of your Saturday, but you could schedule Monday mornings off. Or if you have to work late two nights a week, give yourself a morning or evening off somewhere else.
Having said that, sometimes you really might have to work 8 hours a day 6 days a week!
Your students may need to be flexible if they are working or have children to consider, but this usually means that they are happy for you to request a time change as well. It can work nicely for both sides.
If you want to, you really can choose your own hours. However, this also depends on what time zone you’re in, where your students are and how much many you want or need to earn.
3. More positive relationships
It is, or should be, much easier to develop a positive relationship with your students. Most likely you’ll be teaching one to one or in smaller groups, meaning you’re able to give more time to each student, get to know them and understand their strengths and weaknesses far quicker than if you were in a class of 30.
I am also very lucky as I have wonderful students who are eager to learn, always engaged and genuinely very lovely people. So, a big thanks to them for being awesome!
4. Choose your own materials
You and your students can choose the book(s), what topics to study, how and when to study them and you don’t have to do something if it doesn’t fit your students’ needs or levels. It’s great! Granted, it can mean doing a little extra work some evenings, but I find that work is far more rewarding if it means your students enjoy their lessons.
Even if you are using EnglishFile, Face2Face or Ready for First, if you’re in charge then it’s easy to skip ahead or replace something in the book with an article or exercise that is more suitable for your students.
Things I have thoroughly enjoyed doing with my students are watching videos from BBC ideas, TED talks or YouTube, creating blog posts instead of essays (outside of exam classes) and CV / cover letter workshops. These are all things that may not be suitable, acceptable or useful to students in a class of 15 or 20 students from different backgrounds and cultures.
Pssst… I’m not saying any of the above are revolutionary in any way as I know they are often utilised, I’m just pointing out that they make great additions to a lesson that is not often suitable for a variety of reasons.
- More time for Continuing Professional Development
As a new, and relatively young, teacher I craved development sessions (am I weird??). I was desperate to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Although I was lucky to work with some amazing, intelligent, experienced teachers who were often happy to help, I wanted the dedicated sessions.
We had some on the odd occasion, but often I think they were for the schools to tick boxes. Now, and especially due to the pandemic, there are hundreds of courses and sessions being run online.
I have joined the British Council IELTS training courses (free), ITTC Bournemouth teacher development courses (paid) and have some more booked in with Pearson and QE. I’m excited! Some of these courses are specifically for First and Cambridge Advanced exams, whereas others are about encouraging young learners to engage online, teaching foreign languages in general and some others.
Because I’m not spending 2 to 4 hours commuting every day, I am able to use that time to study and it is having a hugely beneficial impact on my mental health and my knowledge. I’m learning, I’m enjoying learning, and I’m able to put it all into practise in a variety of ways.
Are you a self-employed teacher? What do you enjoy most about it?
Do you have any hints or advice for anyone considering becoming self-employed in an Educational setting? Feel free to leave a comment below!