Claire Venables has been teaching young learners for over seventeen years. She is our tutor on our online Teaching Young Learners course and also on our Trinity DipTESOL course. She recently gave a Question and Answer session for us: Making Your Young Learner Classes Financially Rewarding. Here she shares her summary of that session.
Despite having worked teaching Young Learners for the past 17 years, it’s only recently that I have found professional and financial success with it. Although money is not my main motivation, we all know that passion doesn’t pay the bills or permit the comfortable lifestyle that I believe ALL teachers deserve. I’d like to explore this idea in today’s post.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t have a get rich quick formula. However, I hope that by sharing some of my positive (and negative) experiences, you might feel motivated to make some changes in 2018.
In many ways, it’s a great time to be willing and able to work with children. Foreign language learning is happening in more and more preschool and primary classrooms around the world and qualified, passionate Young Learner Teachers are in high demand. Unfortunately, many people view our job as little more than glorified babysitting and I believe that this is one of the reasons that we are usually given less status and pay in comparison to teachers of older learners. Teaching children is very different to teaching adults, but it is in no way a less challenging or important task. It’s time we started having our value recognized.
In the following sections, I’m going to share some ideas for getting clarity and focus about about your professional and financial goals, developing your teaching practice and getting what you do noticed and valued. Finally, I thought it would be nice to share some examples of alternative ways of making money with YL teaching that are both enjoyable and lucrative. Here we go…
- Don’t Just Dream. Plan.
The idea of feeling financially rewarded usually means different things to different people.
Working this out is your starting point. If you don’t know where you want to go, how will you work out how to get there? To set financial goals you need to sit down and calculate what your current expenses are and what you’d like to be able to afford in the future. Define how much you want to be earning in 2018. It seems so obvious, but how many of us really take the time to do these calculations? From there you can then think about how much you need to increase your income to start living more comfortably in 2018 and what changes need to be made to do that.
I’m no financial expert. In fact, I actively avoid anything to do with numbers and that is why I have chosen to get help with my financial planning next year with a professional. I highly recommend doing the same if you can. In the meantime, check out these useful links:
Straightforward financial management advice from the Barefood Investor.
And there is also a useful budget planning tool you can use on this website.
- Hone Your Skills
So, it would be great if all you needed to do was work out home much you want to earn and then start charging for it, right? But the truth is, getting paid what you deserve means deserving what you get paid. For me, this journey to a better salary has involved time, effort and resources invested in my professional development – both formal and informal. If you want to get paid well, you have to be delivering something of real value whether that be in a language school, giving private classes or teacher training. So hone your skills and become the best version of your professional self!
My top tips for teacher-led professional development can be found in this blog post that I wrote for onestopenglish.
I also have some great videos on my youtube channel of teachers offering even more ideas.
- Find your Niche!
So another important piece of advice that I would like to share with you is the following. It’s much better to work out what it is that you really love doing and become a specialist in that area. Invest your energy and resources in becoming really good at one or two things rather than trying to be an expert at everything. What is the specific age group or type of class that you love doing? Are you interested in teaching teens or toddlers? Decide what it is and what you need to do next to become the best possible teacher for that niche?
I can’t talk about this subject without mentioning Julio Vieitas. He is a reference in ELT management in Brazil and an Oxford TEFL tutor. It’s worth checking out his website and contacting him if you want mentoring or advice.
- Get your work noticed and valued!
So you’ve set your goals, you’ve found your niche and you’ve gotten really good at what you do, but this won’t help you financially until your work is not getting noticed or valued beyond the walls of your classroom. Learning how to do this was the game changer for me! I wish I had done it years ago. Here are some tips for easy things you can do to share what’s going on in your classroom.
- Connect with the parents, get them involved and build a positive and trusting relationship with them.
- Offer an Open Doors Day at the end of each term or semester. Rather than putting on a performance like a song or play, teach a class for the parents and the kids to participate in. This gives them the opportunity to experience what the classes are like.
- Make sure you get involved in what’s going on throughout the year by getting your students participating in the different events.
- Document – everything! Get permission from the parents and take photos and videos to build up an online register of the children’s work, your lesson plans and projects outlines. Share it on your professional profiles on social media.
- Use the app Flipgrid to create a home-school link with videos (here’s a link to a grid that I’ve created to share ideas and Tips with Young Learner Teachers)
- Know Your Worth – and get paid for it!
The final thing I can suggest is one of the most important. If you haven’t see the Ted Talk by Casey Brown about this, do yourself a favour and check it out. She says that you will never get paid what you are worth, you will only get paid what people think you are worth. If you have invested time, effort and resources in becoming the best version of your professional self, then it is only fair that you should be compensated accordingly. I become much better at negotiating my fee when I had worked out how much my minimum was, how rare my profile was in the market and had a notion of what others with a similar profile were getting paid.
It’s also worth remembering that sometimes financial compensation is not the only thing to be gained. Working at a school may not always pay as much as teaching private classes, but if you are in a place where you are encouraged and and valued, it has a different kind of value that cannot be underestimated.
Finally, here are some other ways of making money teaching children beyond classes.
Young Learner Events
Play-days in English or events to celebrate holidays are a great way to supplement your income. Here’s the outline of the Christmas Party that I ran.
Find schools or Recreation Centers where you can run English programs.
Teachers pay teachers
Sell your project outlines and lesson plans online!
With a little research, you can find out what the gaps in the market are and offer a course to meet this demand. That’s what I did with the Baby Sing-A-Long group that I ran with a group of parents and their toddlers.
I hope you’ve found the information in this post useful and feel inspired to try some of my ideas. If you would like to ask me any questions or share your experience or insights about this topic, feel free to get in touch.