I was a teacher for 8 years – I spent four years in the public schools and four in a community-based setting. While there were plenty of things I loved about teaching in the classroom, there were also plenty of things that I realized weren’t working for me. I really enjoy working with students, I love to be creative and help students who learn differently, and I really love knowing that I am making a difference in someone’s life. And then there was the reality of the public school classroom.
I taught in a low-income, high crime school division. I saw 30+ students every 45 minutes, times 6 classes a day, rotating A and B days….yeah, that’s like over 300 students, every two days. The reality of my classroom experience was, for starters, at any given time I probably had the least amount of control out of anyone in my classroom (that took a lot of soul-searching and being honest with myself to come to that conclusion). I taught middle school Family and Consumer Sciences (aka Living Skills aka Home Ec) at a school that lost its state accreditation due to failing test scores. There were some really, really, REALLY amazing teachers there that humbled me daily – but I had to come to terms that due to my personality, my background, and my approach to life/parenting/discipline, I was not one of them. Thankfully, after struggling with the big life choices and soul searching decisions, my husband and I decided that I would quit teaching, take at least one year off, focus on our family, help to grow our home renovation company, and reassess from there.
So the question remained – how will I make up for my lost income? As a teacher with a Masters and EdS Degrees, my gross monthly salary was $4,000. I was paying $1,000 in group health insurance (!!!!), a few hundred into retirement (although our state retirement system was getting worse by the year) and then the usual taxes and things; so take home pay was around $2,500. However, once we both were considered to be self-employed I was able to find very comparable health insurance from the Healthcare Exchange site for $450/month (for our family of 4), I wasn’t forced to pay into a failing retirement system, and our tax bracket had changed; so I began looking for ways to make about $2,5000-3,000/month (gross income).
My first money-making “mompreneur” venture was my Etsy Shop. Within a year of its creation, I average $1,500/month in sales. Etsy definitely fulfilled my desire to be creative, help others (I create emergency contact temporary tattoos for kids and individuals with special needs), and find a little bit of a sense of purpose. It also allowed me to work on my own time while still supporting our family business and being a mom…but it wasn’t quite enough money and still left me wanting to somehow teach or coach (Side note: I was a gymnastics coach for several years prior to teaching).
I explored various teaching, coaching, and tutoring options only to struggle with the low pay (~$10/hour) and conflicting hours with my family’s schedule. Then I found VIPKid. At first, I thought it was a scam and ignored the email they sent. After taking some time to research google other people’s experiences, I realized it may actually work…
As it turns out, It didn’t just work – it worked perfectly. PERFECTLY. I submitted my resume via email, heard back 2 days later, scheduled an interview via video-chat, and within about 10 days, I was teaching…..Teaching young Chinese children in a one-on-one setting, who live completely on the other side of the world….who love learning….who WANT to be in my class and engage with me….and who may have never had an opportunity to learn English from an American before!
Based on my experience, education, and interview/demo lesson (more about that here), VIPKid pays me $21/hour plus all sorts of incentives and bonuses. I get to set my own schedule and work as little as or as many as hours as I prefer. I typically choose to work 5:30-7:30am, Monday-Friday, while my kids are still sleeping. Other good times for me are late night Friday-Saturday (9pm-11pm) or during the day on the weekends when my kids are with their grandparents. I get paid via direct deposit between the 10th-15th of every month and have an unbelievable amount of support, communication, and encouragement from the company all while still being able to work independently as I see fit.
VIPKid has not only changed my family’s finances – it has truly made me a better mother. After spending time with my Chinese students, I embrace life a little differently, I loosen up and get a little sillier (a HUGE requirement of VIPKid), and I am able to set my schedule according to whatever works best for my family. Also….between Etsy and VipKid, I now make almost exactly what my take-home pay was as a public school teacher, and I am no longer dealing with the violence, extreme disrespect and threatening behaviors, and a sense of “going to battle” as I entered work everyday; which is so, so, SOOOO much better for my mental health and my family’s well-being. And did I mention I get to work on my terms, when I want, where I want, and as much or as little as I want?!?
So what about you? Are you a teacher still struggling in the classroom? Wondering if it is the best fit for you? It doesn’t have to be a battle you are stuck in forever! Take the time to think about why you went into teaching in the first place. What do you love about it? What are you good at? Why are you staying if you don’t love it? How can you use those interests, passions, and talents in a way that better suits you (if classroom teaching doesn’t). I would love to chat with you about VIPKid or starting an Etsy shop or hear any other venture you may have tried as a better outlet for you and your family!