Just a teacher….
So, I had started to internalize that very notion. It’s enervating at times, seeing yet another report on the news about ‘failing’ schools, states like Utah permitting people without a teaching degree to teach, people setting themselves up as experts on teaching who have never taught a day in their lives. On top of that, to read a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute and see that, even with benefits, we are still at a negative 11% (or much worse, in a non-unionized state) versus the compensation of demographically similar college-educated workers in other professions.
I have now been able to arrest that thinking, that notion that I’m ‘just a teacher.’ I have reignited that pride in my profession and that inspiration for teaching students which I thought had left me. How did I do it? By taking that first step. The step towards fulfilling my basic needs. I questioned myself that if I cannot keep myself and my family happy, how in the world will I be able to keep the kids in my classroom happy.
At the end of 2012, I found myself in a difficult financial position and I heard about a few platforms wherein you could create your own materials and sell them to other teachers. Beginner teachers, teachers who had been told a week before school began that they were being moved from first grade to sixth, teachers with very young children struggling to come up with a curriculum in schools which barely provided any…you get the picture. I was skeptical at first but excited at the same time and began putting together reading, mathematics, and social studies lessons, assessments, reviews and games that other teachers could possibly use. In my spare time, I started learning more about the effective ways of offering my resources online plus some marketing strategies from other teacher blogs, forums. I uploaded my resources and was ready to go!
Just like any journey, the first few months were rough, making a little over $100 even after putting in a considerable amount of time and effort. Although I didn’t make a lot, I realized that there are teachers who are appreciating my work and who feel that my work is worthy of their valuable dollars! I felt a sense of accomplishment and pride that I hadn’t had in quite some time. I felt great and kept on going. Every month, I gradually improved my presentation skills and, after just a few months, I was making over $1000 per quarter which was not a lot but was certainly much more than what I started with. This was a time when I realized two things that changed everything:
- That I can actually supplement my low income in a meaningful way with this method.
- That, although it was very time consuming at first, it turned out to be a great path of passive income, where my resources were making extra money for me even when I was engaged in doing other tasks.
I remember there were many nights I didn’t make anything and I am glad today, writing this article, that I kept myself going. I had to remind myself about what many of us teach our students: that obstacles are always going to be there, it’s how you deal with them that allows you to grow as a person. I used my time to learn more by collaborating with other teachers, by reading blog articles, forums and realized that I am not the only one. Every single teacher I talked to had almost the same story with one thing in common, that all of them kept going.
You know, Warren Buffett once said, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
Here it is, getting on to four years later, and I celebrated a milestone this past spring when I surpassed $20,000.00 in sales. Part of that went to the platforms, of course, and I had to pay taxes on it, but, every month, I had extra money from my ‘tree’ to pay for necessities like my mortgage, and extras like Christmas gifts.
But what’s been the best part of this? Though I very much appreciate the extra money, I’ve loved experiencing the resurgence of pride in my profession, the knowledge and skills I have which I can use to help other teachers, the understanding that, yes, what I do is IMPORTANT and not to be derided or debased.
I am an entrepreneur, I am an author, I am a teacher.
EdHero provides you an opportunity to collaborate to create rich lessons, units, and courses; earn professional development certificates and sell your materials through your own store. Explore the marketplace, team up with teachers across the globe, advance your teaching skills, change kids’ lives and earn extra money – all in one place!