Those of you who read regularly know just how much of a horrendous curmudgeon I am, and this past couple of weeks I’ve been questioning my career choices, much like Rob Gordon in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, when he talks about shutting down his record shop to go and work in a Virgin Megastore.
I have, however, come out the other side of this gnashing of teeth and realised that my relief that life is not all bad was helped by the following things:
Keeping a diary
Not a journal, although I do jot things or add them to a private Google document. No, I’m talking about keeping a detailed schedule and updating it weekly. If I knew I could gather the info as quickly online as I can with paper, I’d use an internet-based calendar but paper is just plain quicker.
Finding how many classes I teach for myself is useful for paperwork for my son’s daycare. It’s also a lot quicker for scheduling new clients.
Speaking Halfway OK Japanese
I had to phone the bank this week and if I hadn’t learned the Japanese I have, getting the information I needed woukd have meant waiting until my wife’s day off or hiring an interpreter or begging the bank to find someone who speaks English.
Spread the risk
I do not work for just one agency, or just one client. This means of one company goes belly up, or if a new client is bloody unreliable, I don’t lose out too much.
This was an issue when I was a mere part-time dabbler, living paycheck to paycheck. I know now that I would never again work for a fly-by-night company who photocopy all their materials. I also know that if I get paid late, somebody doesn’t care about me so what else don’t they care about?
Don’t get me wrong, I’d still love a permanent full-time job with a good salary, it’s just that those are rare as hen’s teeth in EFL and I actually do enjoy my job. It’s just the times people treat you as an idiot that get me cross.
8 Replies to “Stuff I am Glad I Do as a Freelance Teacher”
One thing that keeps me sane (although they’re a pain to write) is detailed notes after each class+HW assignment that I share with my private students. And personally, I only do things I like – teaching, lesson planning, material design for my classes. Number of meetings I attend per year=zero.
Kamila, thanks for this.
My teaching style is my teaching style. I tailor classes to learners but the moment I’m asked to teach in a bloody silly way because it’s more like school is the minute I’m considering not renewing contracts. My meetings are one a month and one a year, though there are pointless days of waiting around at school (or desk cleaning).
Ah the pointless meetings. I have nothing wrong with meetings where I should be there but the ones where I’m told I have to attend and then there is no information for me and no point in me being there…unfortunately they are the majority.
Glad it’s not just Japan. I have planned and designed materials for classes during some of our more legendary meetings.
What I really hate about full time jobs is the time that you are expected to spend on unproductive, peripheral activities. Meetings are just the tip of the iceberg.
Full-time jobs are bad for pointless bureaucracy but I would love to just have a fixed schedule and income wutgout peaks and troughs.
I like High Fidelity. The book, not the movie – isn’t there a movie too? I also think it’s great that you’re a confident speaker of Japanese. If that had been me (and the bank did business in French) I would’ve most likely pretended I didn’t speak any.
At this point I think I’m just about ready for a full-time job again, bureaucracy and all.
I would love a full-time job. Unfortunately my cost of living is higher than full-time ELT wages.
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