My 5 top secrets for you to succeed as a Teacherpreneur
Recently I’ve come to a complete change in my teaching career, from face to face classes to full time online classes and I’d like to share with you how I’ve managed to do so.
I’ve been a teacher since 2001 and in 2014 I decided to leave my coordinator position at a Yázigi branch in São José dos Campos, SP, Brazil to become a self-employed teacher. It was by far the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. Firstly, because I could manage my own time, secondly, because I didn’t have to deal with all the unpleasant situations I had to manage as a coordinator, and thirdly, because I can now make much more money than before, having way more fun with my one-to-one students and private groups. I used to teach students in-company, at their home, and later in 2017, also at my private office, with my sister as a partner, who is also a teacher. Things were going really well last year, my schedule was full and at the time, I had only one student from São Paulo having online classes by Skype, when suddenly my husband got a job offer to work in a city 30 minutes away from Munich, in Germany. We had no doubt about taking the offer, living abroad had always been our dream, but I had my 30 students to think of and I couldn’t simply leave them “teacherless”. That was when I thought about offering them to continue having classes online.
Much to my surprise, all of them accepted the deal, except those I couldn’t teach anymore due to the different time zone. I basically kept all the students who had classes from 7am to 2pm (Brasilia time) which means from 12pm to 7pm here in Germany.
Of course, it wasn’t easy at first, it took us some time to get used to the new teaching style. Some of my students were afraid they wouldn’t benefit from the online classes as much as they used to in face to face interactions, they were also worried about the quality of the internet connection (which was a problem for me in the beginning, before we were settled in our own apartment here), but in the end, I was gladly surprised about all the positive feedback I got from them, about how much they were enjoying the classes and that the classes were not so different after all. One of the things they like the most i that they can have classes wherever they are, so they hardly ever cancel classes, even when they are away on business.
Back in Brazil I used to drive from one place to another all day long, I worked an average of 9 hours a day in class, plus all the commuting and class preparation, so my life was very busy, and now I have time for myself, to read, to study, even to exercise.
My top 5 secrets for a successful 1-2-1 teaching career
Since I became a self-employed teacher, I’ve been teaching mostly adult students, therefore I’ve learned some valuable lessons that help me keep my earnings stable and my schedule full. Most teachers are afraid of becoming self-employed because they fear not having enough students to make ends meet, but if they follow some golden rules, they will certainly find their space in the market:
- Be consistent: never fall short on your promises and responsibilities. If you say you are sending an email about anything later, do send it. Be there on time for your classes, prepare your classes in advance and never cancel classes at the last minute (unless something has really come up). Don’t blame the traffic or anything else for your mistakes, don’t make excuses, try to predict possible problems and avoid them. You are your own brand, so do everything you can to keep your image positive. You’ll see that most of your students will come from word of mouth, so if you do a great job, your own students will recommend you to their friends and you will grow your business without much effort on advertisement.
- Ask interesting questions: go further on the discussions you promote in class, be interested in what your student has to say, try to understand more about their work to make useful contributions. For a 1-2-1 class to be engaging, learners need more than only language feedback, they need the teacher to provide a continuous conversation flow, so listen to them attentively and think of thought-provoking questions to keep stimulating interactions.
- Start small (this worked very well for me): don’t spend a lot of money (for example, renting an office space) at the beginning of your independent career. If possible, try to get some 1-2-1 students in your free time while you’re still working for a school. This way you will have some income when you decide to go self-employed. When I left the school I had 3 private students so I told them a had a free schedule, and they immediately started recommending me to their friends. Soon after that, my schedule was full and I was making more money than I had ever made at the school. Only after 2 years did I rent an office space and to be honest, I didn’t even spend much time there, because I kept teaching students in-company and at their home.
- Use reliable resources: if you are teaching online, choose resources you can rely on, especially the platform you use to connect to your students. I used to use Skype, and I had a lot of problems with the quality of the connection. Then I decided to use Zoom (the paid version to make sure I had all the support I needed) and my classes improved a lot. The connection hardly ever fails and it’s very easy to use. I also use Google Drive to organize all the materials I share with students in a professional way.
- Find your niche: when you focus your efforts on a specific niche, it’s easier to become more relevant to students, and also to choose what pat in terms of continuous professional development. When you specialize in one area, you improve and expand your results.
I am confident that by following these 5 top secrets you will get closer to your goal to become a successful self-employed teaching career. And if you want to know any other details about my life as an online teacherpreneur, I’d be more than happy to share them with you. You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next time!