After thirty-two years of working with the relative security of being a salaried teacher and the convenience of paying income tax and National Insurance through PAYE, I’ve finally taken the plunge and become self-employed (for most of my time anyway). So far it’s been an exciting, roller-coaster ride with a steep learning curve. I have had moments of intense doubt – what on earth was I thinking of, giving up a secure career and prospective pension at a time of such financial instability? Then, when I experience the intense pleasure of working 1:1 with children in ways we both find fun, I know exactly why I did it!
I am thrilled to be able to work with children in a way that 30+ years of teaching experience and lots of reading of educational research leads me to believe works (please take note Mr Gove). No more politicians constantly changing the goal posts (without any sound evidence for making the changes) or Senior Managers telling me what I must or mustn’t do which, in my experience, is often rooted in internal politics rather than based upon the best interests of the children. No more insane bureaucracy or spending more time justifying what I have done than I am able to spend actually doing what I am really good at, which is providing a safe and stimulating learning environment, promoting children’s confidence and inspiring them to learn. Working as a private tutor allows me to do this to my heart’s content.
The down side is that, as private tuition has to be done after school and at weekends, this limits the amount of hours I can spend doing it. Therefore, I have a small security blanket to hold onto in the shape of a part-time job working at Wolfson College, Cambridge University. Even then, I still have a significant amount of time to devote to my other passion – writing (more about that another day). I also have plans to develop my work on Learning Journals, possibly going into schools to lead workshops for teachers, parents and children. I’d also like to write more school plays and help schools who need a production that gives every child a chance to speak. I’ve even considered working as a parental advisor or ‘supernanny’, working with parents who are finding their children’s behaviour difficult to manage. Having lots of ideas is exciting but I don’t want to try and run before I can walk so, for now, I’m concentrating on building up my private tuition service.
My challenge is to find some children to tutor! In today’s world, it is not enough just to stick a postcard up in the village shop and hope for the best. It is necessary to develop my own website and advertise my services by networking via social media, hence the aforementioned steep learning curve. Although I’ve communicated with friends and academic colleagues via Facebook for several years now, I hadn’t ever tried to create a business page, let alone a website or link to Twitter, Linkedin etc. As for tweeting, I always left that strictly for the birds! As I’m on a very tight budget, I’m teaching myself how to do all these things, plus lots of other bits and bobs associated with being self-employed, so some of my future blogs will undoubtedly be based on the things I’m learning about being self-employed as well as all things appertaining to my passions for teaching and writing.