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Professional Development: Why Teachers Make the Best Freelancers

Charles Silberman

Running a classroom is a lot like running a business. You create lesson plans, much like you would a quarterly business plan. You manage and assign projects. You budget, meet with parents, brainstorm professional development, plan field trips. You work with a variety of personalities and talents to achieve a common goal.

This skillset is exactly why teachers make the best entrepreneurs. I’m a physical education teacher by day, and I think it’s the best job in the world! But there’s something to be said about my freelancing side gig on Fiverr that allows me to set my own hours, earn extra income to pay down some debt, and save up for a rainy day.

Considering the extra time they have in the summer and how quickly the freelancing economy has taken off, it’s surprising to me that more teachers don’t freelance. Here are three reasons why they should:

Teachers are highly skilled. Only 39 percent of Americans have a college degree and only nine percent hold a master’s degree or higher. Teachers, however, are required to have a college education and many have graduate degrees. They’ve had more formal training than most people in the U.S., let alone the world, and have the skills that come with that training.

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They are masters at many subjects, from reading and writing to math and history. Freelancing allows you to take a subject you’re passionate about and pursue it on the side. For me, it’s writing. I love to write, and I write articles about health and fitness for a number of different types of clients. I’ve taken a skill and passion of mine and turned it into a hobby that funds the extra things in my life. I was encouraged to do this by my mentor Kevin, who encouraged me to start selling SEO writing and building out my offerings from there.

Teachers are receptive to feedback. Teachers work with a diverse range of people and needs. From the children they work with every day, to their colleagues, school administration, and parents, teachers have to balance feedback from a number of sources. They have to work around red tape and create learning environments that meet the needs of their students.

In freelancing, you have to be receptive to feedback and know how to work with a variety of people. You have to be good at communicating so the end result is something your clients are happy with. You also have to be willing to incorporate feedback even after you’ve finished a project. Going above and beyond is what sets a good freelancer apart from an average freelancer.

Teachers have flexible schedules. While the school year can be hectic between PTA meetings, after-school committees, staff meetings, back-to-school nights, professional development courses, and parent-teacher conferences, the summer is the perfect time for teachers to get into freelancing. Many teachers look for part-time jobs over the summer anyway, but they feel like they have to find something through the school system, such as teaching summer school or being a driver’s ed instructor.

With freelancing, you can pick up more work over the summer and taper it off during the school year. Teachers can also choose to freelance on weekends or over winter and spring breaks to bring in an extra income. You’re in the driver’s seat and can decide how much or how little you work. Plus, you can decide where and at what times you choose to work.  I decided that I prefer to freelance for about 40 hours a month during the summer and about 20 hours a month during the school year. In addition, I choose to freelance in the morning and while visiting relatives during the summer, especially because of the flexibility of Fiverr’s mobile app This has helped me work toward some of my financial goals, such as paying off debt and growing my savings. It has also helped me fund my other passion projects that let me advocate for my profession, such as an online ecourse I created, a reading website and PE blog I created, and writing about health and fitness.

Teachers have a lot of reasons to freelance, from saving up for summer vacation to reinvesting in their classrooms, since many teachers have to buy their own school supplies. Ultimately, teachers are already entrepreneurs and have the skills necessary to be great freelancers. They have a broad knowledge of many subjects, are receptive to feedback and have open summer months to work from virtually anywhere and anytime. Freelancing is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I know other teachers can benefit from it too.

Charles Silberman is a physical education and health teacher with 14 years of teaching experience. He has become a leader and advocate for incoming physical educators by running workshops on teaching in limited space at staff inservices and conferences, assisting with new teacher orientations, and other initiatives. He has experience writing curriculum from scratch and writing published information specific to physical education in state and nationally recognized publications and websites. Charles has also created a niche as a physical education specialist who fuses technology and primary instructional subjects into physical education lessons. Learn more about him at www.charlesssilberman.com Contact info: charlesssilberman@gmail.com.