Ten Freelance Teacher Essentials

Since I began teaching freelance and for agencies about five years ago I haven’t had the benefit of an office in the same building I work in except for two of the regular gigs I have. With this in mind, here are my essentials.

  1. Cheap Pens
  2. You will lend pens out and forget to take them back in at the end of the lesson. The cost mounts up,

  3. Earphones
  4. With these you can prep listening exercises on public transport or find supplementary/alternative materials.

  5. Authentic materials/Realia
  6. Menus, transport maps, leaflets, etc. can be exploited in lessons.

  7. USB Drive
  8. Not all convenience store printers will print directly from smartphones/tablets. Carry your materials on one of these. Periodically copy stuff back and forth. Cloud storage is a handy backup, too.

  9. Plastic folders
  10. Can keep documents inside without massive creases. May also work as a desk when on the train.

  11. Scissors/Swiss Army Knife
  12. For cutting paper into strips or bits.

  13. Envelopes
  14. For keeping tiny bits of paper inside.

  15. Dice
  16. Useful for ad-hoc games or random selection of student/task type/anything else that has six options.

  17. Notebook
  18. Monitor stuff students say. It can and will be a goldmine. You can use it for examples of common errors, more authentic gap fills and even just for reflection on task performance.

  19. Post-its/Index cards
  20. These work as bookmarks, vocabulary cards, cue cards and more.

Also, it’s useful to have a big bag to keep them in!

5 Replies to “Ten Freelance Teacher Essentials”

  1. Hi Marc,
    I remember the times when I worked freelance and I didn’t have an office of mine either. I constantly felt like a cuckoo. This feeling was one of the reasons why I wanted to go into the state factor where every teacher usually had their own desk, chair, even classroom (I’m a material girl, I know). Although I didn’t have to commute back then (I walked or cycled), I travelled from one school to another and I carried all the stuff in a huge back. It makes me smile that I had the same survival kit you describe in your post. Anyway, thanks for sharing your tips and bringing back some of my memories!

    1. I can’t even begin to imagine doing the same job and walking. Then again, Czech is less humid than Japan in Summer, I bet.
      I do love my desk at my ‘main’ job. It is weird having a large bag as my office the rest of the time.

      1. I just wanted to add that although I felt I didn’t have my own ‘nest’ back then, I actually liked my job very much. I was quite independent and there was no paperwork whatsoever. Working in the state sector as an English teacher may bring more prestige and certain material benefits, but you can easily lose some of your freedom.

        1. I used to work in the state sector in the UK. The government love a bit of pointless paperwork, especially when you’re new. I couldn’t cope and I’m glad I got out because it wasn’t for me. While I’d love to have roots somewhere, I don’t relish being mired in admin. I’ll see how things develop in future.

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