4 ways teachers can earn money outside the classroom

July 24, 2020

Given that educators around the country felt underpaid, undervalued and frustrated that their voices were not being heard before COVID-19, you might feel like you’re at your wit’s end now. As the 2020-2021 school year approaches, many teachers are contending with the pandemic’s crushing effects to their safety and their livelihoods, including the looming threat of budget cuts and layoffs and the need for alternative work, extra money and flexibility, which could make it easier to juggle your career and family life. 

But here’s the good news. The pandemic is also opening up new opportunities for teaching professionals who may want to  explore a different type of education career, such as heading up a microschool or tutoring pod. By earning hourly rates reaching up to $80 an hour in some cases, you might be able to meet or surpass your previous income. 

Whether you’re temporarily opting out of the classroom or currently out of work, here are four pandemic-friendly ways teachers could bolster their cash flow.

1. Microschools or learning pods

You could head up a “pod school” made up of students whose parents have banded together to hire accredited teachers or educated caregivers to instruct their children in a small group. Classes might be held at someone’s home, outside or in a commercial space. In Massachusetts, parents who’ve decided this is the best bet for their kids will see that their microschool teacher instructs the remote curriculum set forth by their school district. Meanwhile, Facebook groups formed by parents all around the country are exploring what microschool could look like for their kids. 

The pros: Fewer kids (and parents) mean a reduced risk of COVID-19 transmission, an easier time physically distancing and an easier time setting curriculum and safety rules. 

The cons: Coordinating scheduling with multiple families might prove challenging.

2. Forest schooling

Whether organized by a private company like Tinkergarten or independent teachers, outdoor education programs are taking off, especially for younger kids. Forest schools function like microschools but use nature as a classroom and curriculum. According to Outdoor Families, activities vary but tend to focus on emergent, play and place-based curriculum. Kids might go hiking, build and cook over a fire, tie knots, make a map or use a compass.

The pros: Transmission is thought to be reduced outdoors, as the open air dilutes the virus quickly. You’ll get to work outdoors, and research has also shown spending time in nature can bolster kids’ mental health. You might also enjoy the support of the American Forest Kindergarten Association

The cons: You may not have the skill set or interest in a nature-based curriculum, and these programs could also be tough to start or implement in urban areas or cities with extreme hot or cold climates.

3. Teaching nanny

The existing child care crisis paired with the back-to-school concerns have many parents  on the hunt for nannies with teaching experience or special certifications that can make it easier for them to pitch in on a child’s education. Ryan Jordan, the founder of Educated Nannies in Los Angeles, which specializes in placing nannies who have a degree in child development or a teaching credential, shares, “With Los Angeles and Orange County opting to do no in-person school, families need to find child care coverage and educational support. We have had over 100 inquiries in the last week from parents asking for support with Zoom sessions and homework.” 

The pros: If you work with young children and are already well-versed in plenty of child care duties, like snack time and potty and play breaks, this could be a natural career pivot that allows you to more intensively support one or two children. And exposure to fewer kids means a reduced risk of catching COVID-19. Working in a nanny share may also allow you teach and care for a few same-age kids. 

The cons: If you opt to work as a caregiver and educator, your day might be less self-led and more informed by parents’ requests, regulations and education. You might not have the ability to set your own schedule and will need to work around the child’s needs.

4. Private tutoring

Plenty of educators work as tutors on the side to supplement their salary. But now, it’s an option that could take center stage. Given the additional support parents are looking for in regard to their child’s remote learning, tutors are in demand. You could also work for a private tutoring company, many of which have recently begun offering online programs.

The pros: Depending on whether you go it alone or through a company, you can set your own rates, establish your own  teaching methods and focus on subjects you enjoy most. Plus, you can reduce your COVID-19 risk opting to tutoring a few individuals and following safety guidelines or work online exclusively as a no-risk option.

The cons: Like microschooling, coordinating schedules with multiple families could be demanding. It could also be tough to reach a diverse group of students, however, teachers could offer financial aid, sliding scale rates or ask higher-income clients to subsidize a lower-income student. 

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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