The 3 T's: Teaching, Tutoring, & Time Freedom

“The biggest time freedom is that I'm a busy mom of four. I have a husband who has his own business. Doing this allows me to be the wife and mom that I want to be, to support my family.”

Suzanne:
Hey there! Thanks for popping into My 5 Freedoms Life. I'm your host, Suzanne Klein, an educator-turned-entrepreneur with a 5 Freedoms Life and teaching you how to have one too!
Today's topic is all about Three T’s: Teaching, Tutoring, and Time. This is a must-watch episode for educators considering online teaching or tutoring; my next guest has experience in both. She taught in public, private, and homeschool settings for 17 years, and has now made the switch to purely online teaching. She's excited to talk about this
new change and all that comes with it. A big welcome to Kay Stomp.


Kay:
Thank you for having me, Suzanne. It's a pleasure to be with you today. I'm excited to share with educators looking for more time freedom how I found that freedom, and encourage them that it’s out there waiting for them. They just have to pursue it.

Suzanne:
I think it’s funny how we met; it was so out of character for me. Normally, when I get on a plane I sit down and do one of three things: sleep, read, or watch a movie. But this time I must have sensed that Kay, sitting next to me on the plane, was a teacher. You know teachers; we have that “teacher sixth sense.” I did something out of character: I
started talking to her. I think I broke the ice by asking your husband about a T-shirt he was wearing, and then that was it. No sleeping, reading, or movie; we talked for the whole flight.

Kay, I’d like you to share the bits and pieces of our conversation that will most help our educators out there. Let's start with why you left your third-grade teaching position; from what I remember of our conversation, it wasn’t really your choice. Can you tell us about
that?


Kay:
I had taught at a tiny private school, third grade, for five years and really liked it there, had done very well there. But enrollment was dropping, and they planned to phase out five positions for the following year. Private schools don't receive government funding, so we’re dependent upon student enrollment. It was a painful experience, but I found
that there is life after a layoff. And that's what led me to this next step.

Suzanne
Thank you for sharing that. I know it’s often challenging to share wounds that may still be open, but I think that sharing the next steps you took and how you re-formed your life it helps our participants in this summit. You're not alone in the situation; many teachers find themselves without jobs due to unforeseen situations. One district I worked
in as a teacher coach, the entire district went under and the state took over; but they closed it all down and everyone was out of a job. It happens. No guarantees in life—only opportunities.
I suppose the first question is why not simply find another teaching job at another school?


Kay:
That's a very good question. I initially was obsessed with getting another job; I put out resumes and pursued that all last summer. It just didn't pan out—there weren’t many openings near me. And the more I found that, the more I felt like maybe it was time to do something else.
I began to pursue other opportunities. And the idea for what I’m doing now kept coming back to my mind; I couldn't get away from it. By the end of the summer I’d concluded I needed to do something else, make a change. That's what led me to what I'm doing right now.

Suzanne
That's great! Thank you for sharing that. I do want to ask you about the tutoring business you had for several years, tutoring in the library—which I think is a great idea, instead of having them come to your home. I imagine we have teachers here who have, or have considered starting, a tutoring business. How did yours go?

Kay:
Another great question. I’d done that off-and-on for years; it was something I’d considered for this past year as well. It was very part-time, as it always had been—it’s a challenge to tutor independently full-time, simply because you have to continually market yourself to get clients. I blanketed my area with flyers, I marketed online, but what I'm doing now ended up being a more consistent source of income. I still do independent tutoring, but it's here and there. This had a steadier customer base. I went with it.

Suzanne:
That totally makes sense and I'm glad that you shared that. What are you doing now?


Kay:
I’m an online tutor for VIPKid Teacher’s Portal. I tutor Chinese students in English as a Second Language. There's a very large middle class growing in China, and they’re becoming more globally oriented, so Chinese parents want their children to learn English. I tutor from my home, in my basement. This is my classroom right here. Every morning I wake up and tutor kids halfway around the world who want to learn English.

Suzanne:
That's amazing—and the beauty of online. It’s what I talk about most with creating an online business, how the opportunities for teachers have never been so numerous and so great because of the enormous availability and access to technology, and everything being online now.
Would you say you have more freedom now than when you were a classroom teacher? What would you say to people who might be considering online teaching, but feel like, “Okay, I'm a teacher; that means I can only be a classroom teacher”?

There are so many ways outside a traditional classroom setting—you’re still teaching. Educating children, and adults—so many other opportunities to teach. How do you have more freedom today—time freedom in particular—than when you were a classroom teacher?

Kay:
My schedule is basically my own. Every week I go into the scheduler and choose my time blocks for bookings. China is twelve hours ahead, so they typically want to book tutoring between dinner and bedtime—6:00-9:30 pm their time, which is 6:00-9:30 am my time. I get up and teach four 25-minute lessons in the morning. I see my own children—four teenagers, one in college and three still at home—off to school and then
teach from 7:30-9:30. I can do Saturday mornings as well. I’ve done some evenings (their mornings); they get tutored before they go to school. I can teach morning and/or evening and have my days free; I can choose how little or how much I want to teach.

When you and I met on that plane, I was returning from the Cayman Islands. I chose to not teach at all that week. But this week I have students every morning, because it's back-to-school season. That’s the beauty of it: I can choose my own schedule and set my own hours.

Suzanne:
And I'm assuming it also allows you to be able to see your son when you want; he’s military-bound...

Kay:
In the army ROTC training program at his college, to be an army officer.

Suzanne:
...and set your own schedule to be able to work around your life. That's amazing. That's true time freedom, isn't it?

Kay:
It is. The biggest time freedom is that I'm a busy mom of four. I have a husband who has his own business. Doing this allows me to be the wife and mom that I want to be, to support my family. If I need to go on my daughter's field trip or sub at my girls’ school, I can take a day to do that. Or I can stack my hours and be as busy as I want at home.
Being able to choose my schedule gives me so much more freedom than when I taught full-time. I couldn't chaperone field trips. I couldn't go to the awards ceremonies. I had to be in my classroom, and the only field trips I went on were the ones I scheduled for my own class.

Suzanne:
Right. Teaching is a noble profession; it's so critical to have teachers in the classroom who want to be there, making a difference, who know it’s their purpose. But for those who want to pursue a different angle—have more time freedom while still making that impact—they can do it from home, online as you’re doing. It's the same impact, just a different format.

Kay:
Yes. It’s so freeing. I feel like it's such a privilege, that I can do this, to have the time and the margin to do the things I want to do.

Suzanne:
So how is it different than being in the classroom with 30 students at once? Obviously, the one-on-one time with each student increases a lot. But what else? You've created something to share with our viewers; could you tell us what it is and what it's based on?

Kay:
Your viewers, especially the older ones, might remember David Letterman and his famous Top 10 Lists. I thought I’d create The Top Ten Ways Online Teaching Differs from Classroom Teaching as a summary. So here we go.

#10: You discover your student took their iPad with them to the restroom—in the middle of class.

Suzanne:
That happened?

Kay:
I was teaching a 5-year-old boy. Suddenly, I saw moving tile in front of me instead of his cute little face. Turns out we were in the restroom and I didn't even know until I heard a flush. Pretty soon we were back in his bedroom. I didn't see anything; I thought, “If I do, I'm gonna turn that webcam off.” But hey, when you got to go, you got to go.

Suzanne:
That's great! Okay, number nine?

Kay:
#9: You can teach in your yoga pants or sweats. How many teachers in the classroom get to do that? Not many.
#8: You’ve put in a full day of classes by 9:30 a.m.
#7: (This is one of my personal favorites) No lesson plans and no papers to grade. It's nonexistent with online teaching. I have one small feedback form to fill out for each child; it takes about five minutes, and that's it.
#6: No classroom to set up. This backdrop is it. A few posters on the wall behind you, and you're ready to go.
#5: You can focus on one child at a time, instead of twenty-five. I love the one-on-one aspect. For me, the best part of this job.
#4: No parent conferences or parent emails to worry about. Those little feedback forms I fill out lets the parents know how the child is doing. And there are no time-consuming emails or conferences to worry about.
#3: No in-services or faculty meetings to attend. Your training materials are online and done on your own time.

#2: You can teach from your basement (like I'm doing right now) or from a hotel room in Hawaii. You choose. If you have a laptop and a good internet connection, you can do this from anywhere. A lot of people travel around the world as they do this.
And #1: You set your schedule. Not the school district, not your administrators, but you.


Suzanne:
That's an amazing list. It really helps paint the picture and clarify some of the details about what you do. I know there's one last question our participants want to know—how much you make—but don't tell us, because I want them to reach out to you with their questions.
We're nearly out of time, but I want to ask one last thing. What transferable skills did you have as a classroom teacher that has helped you run your tutoring business and what you're doing now with your VIPKid online classroom? Because again, many teachers think, “I'm a teacher. That's all I can do. That's all I know.” And then they feel stuck. But teachers make some of the best entrepreneurs, and some of the best online teachers, because of that experience. What transferable skills went with you from the brick-and-mortar classroom?

Kay:
So many skills you use in the regular classroom are completely transferable to online teaching. I would say the #1 skill is enthusiasm, because you’re basically FaceTiming with that student. Smiling, the tone of your voice, using gestures, being engaging, warm, and welcoming—the same way you'd be in the classroom. Maybe even a little more so online; it’s just a really useful skill. Being enthusiastic helps keep them engaged.
Also, creativity. Just finding creative ways to explain something. I use a lot of simple props. I have things to explain the parts of the face or different motions. Finding interesting ways to explain simple concepts. Then being clear, simple, and direct in your instruction; the same way you would be in the classroom. The same skills apply to online teaching.

Suzanne:
Excellent. Do you feel the self-motivating skills you used in the classroom—writing your own lesson plans, disciplining yourself to show up at a certain time—have carried through? No one's standing over you saying, “You have to be here, do this.”

Kay:
You must definitely be a self-starter. You have to want to do it. Like anything in life: the more you put into it, the more you'll get out of it. You have to be driven enough to open yourself up for bookings and want to be booked—because if you don't pursue it, they won't book you, and you won't get any students. But that’s not hard to do. You just have to decide you want to do it.

Suzanne:
Yes! So, I'm afraid that's all the time we have. But if you're interested in hearing more about how to join VIPKid, we have a link for you. And if you sign up with VIPKid and go through their hiring process using her referral link KATHA0034 (those are zeroes), she will offer free advice and coaching to you via email as you navigate that process! She’ll be
available for free consultations throughout your career as a VIPKid teacher. That’s just fantastic. Thank you, Kay.

Kay:
Absolutely. I'm glad to help anyone who would like to join this venture. It's one of the best moves I ever made and I'm excited to help other teachers get started.

Suzanne:
That's fantastic. Thank you, Kay. It's been a pleasure having you here. I'm Suzanne Klein.
Remember, you can rewrite your future. Until next time. Stay savvy, my friends.

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