- This post evaluates and thoroughly examines the two sides of whether teachers should have a side hustle.
- Two differing scenarios are mentioned, for and against having a side hustle.
- Five reasons why you should start a side hustle are shared.
This is an interesting thought to reflect on because there is no easy answer, nor is there one single answer that suits us all. Regardless, it definitely should be something that all teachers evaluate and then decide what’s best for themselves. As such, I have a couple of thoughts for you. No matter which side of the coin you land on, I want to point out the pros and cons.
An Economic Analysis of Covid Lockdown
I recently recorded a podcast episode (oops…disclaimer! I have some side-hustles) in which I interviewed a friend of mine, Dr. Doug Allen, who is an economist, teaching at a local university. He did some intriguing research on the covid lockdown in a way only an economist would. It was a total and complete cost/benefit analysis. He had a lot to say about the costs associated with interrupted learning this year. You can find it on Science360 (Spotify or Apple Podcasts).
One of the things I took away from the conversation was that all decisions need a thorough examination before one side or the other is accepted or defeated. So let’s do so with regard to teachers having a side hustle, that is, an educationally-related business activity. I will give two scenarios and you can choose your favourite one.Here is my advice. Take it or leave it: start a side-hustle. So write a blog, record a podcast, start your book, or develop a presentation. Click To Tweet
Should Teachers Have a Side-Hustle? Yes
Teachers have something that many people want, and that is knowledge. In a 2020 article in Forbes magazine, it was written, “As the volume of accessible information increases, the value of it decreases. In tandem with this value shift, however, the price of non-indexed, private, non-searchable information has skyrocketed.” So when Google came on the scene, there was a huge demand for knowledge and it became easier and easier to get. With larger volumes of knowledge available with the click of a button, the value of that knowledge went down.
What is now in demand is non-indexed, non-searchable knowledge from experts. Teachers, we are experts! We are great communicators and we know things that the public is interested in. As an example, I decided last year to offer an evening presentation to the public on an area I could be considered an expert in, simply because it is what I teach. I called it “Beyond the Sky” and I charged an admission fee to hear it. I sold out the room and made a lot of money! It was really easy as I just talked about what I do in my astronomy class and the audience loved learning about the universe.
Do you teach a course that the public might want to pay for? Think about it.
Should Teachers Have a Side-Hustle? No
I would say there are at least two reasons not to have an education business. The first to consider is the risk to your self-esteem. You can’t deny that there is a possibility that people won’t be interested in your content area or the teaching material you created. Now you either accept it as “nothing ventured, nothing gained” or you go back to the drawing board and make it better.
The second is the pressure you may feel to keep producing content. That is a pressure you may not want to deal with. So the caveat is that once started, you may end up continuing because you feel you have to OR out of guilt when you see other teachers pushing their gig. These aren’t good reasons for carrying on.
The teaching profession has so many things going for it. We are generally well respected in the community. We get paid decently (eventually). There are pension and medical benefits in most jurisdictions. If we get through those early years of teaching and figure it out, there are enormous rewards in seeing your students’ eyes brighten as you bring them along toward their futures. These things are plenty rewarding and will consume a significant amount of your time. There really is no need to do more than this and add to the stresses of your daily professional and personal life.
What’s Your Conclusion? Should Teachers Have a Side-Hustle?
This has to be a personal decision that matches your personality, your aspirations, your family, and so much more. Talk to five people and you will likely get five different pieces of advice. Right now, though, you’re talking to me. So here is my advice. Take it or leave it: start a side-hustle. Here’s why:
- It connects you to something bigger (like the Teach Better Team). Being a part of something gives you a sense of belonging, that you’re not in it alone.
- It causes you to grow professionally as a teacher, presenter, and content creator. This will serve your students well.
- You gain a sense of purpose where your time becomes valuable as you add to the body of knowledge available to the world.
- You learn more about yourself and realize what you are truly capable of. The realization may surprise you and this leads to self-confidence which translates into every other aspect of your life.
- Your time as a teacher will grow more valuable. Instead of frittering it away with worry or scrolling, you will grow excited to see what you will do next!
So write a blog (an hour per month), record a podcast (2-3 hours per episode but you decide how often), start your book (maybe 5 hours a week until it’s done), or develop a presentation (a few hours to develop but once done, you find places to present it).
I found that there is teaching as it always has been historically. And then there is teaching as it is becoming here in the 3rd decade of the 21st century. I’m excited about where teaching is going and what it can be. I hope that you can reflect on how this career suits you best and then start to take it beyond the classroom. If you want to discuss this further (a blog post is just a quick snapshot of a larger theme), then connect with me and we can dig deeper into some of your ideas.
About Tim Stephenson
Tim has been teaching in Langley, British Columbia for over 25 years. He’s a science teacher, particularly astronomy, which is a course he has developed into a full credit senior science course. In his school, he is known as AstroStephenson. Way back at the beginning of his teaching career, he wrote a book, really to himself, that contained his teaching philosophy. It was a project that would define his career. He is a possibility thinker, a dreamer and a doer, an innovator.
From the very beginning, he knew that he wanted to teach by putting students and relationships ahead of content, and putting experiences and emotions ahead of curriculum. The result has been a long career of rich and rewarding experiences for both himself and his students, the pinnacle being in 2018 when he was the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Now Tim would like to share with you his thoughts and experiences on teaching with the hope that by reflecting better, you will feel empowered to try new things, teach in new ways and see the possibilities that are there for all of us in the teaching profession.