Before my teacher side hustle…
It was December of 2015, and starting a teacher side hustle was the last thing on my mind.
I was nine months pregnant with my second child.
I sat in my office crying, overwhelmed with expectations (administration, students, colleagues, not to mention my own) and feeling like I could never fulfill them all. In other words, my teacher stress level was at an all-time-high.
I was completing paperwork, emailing parents, trying to grade the latest pile of essays, and gather resources for my upcoming maternity leave… This was all on my “lunch” break.
It’s no surprise that I wanted to quit teaching, or at least go part-time. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, hasta la vista muchachos.
This feeling wasn’t new. I’d had it every single year since I could remember.
But I was stuck. I held the family insurance, had put in 13 years already, had my national board certification. What else could I do? I knew that I wanted to keep my summers off to be with my kids, knew that I didn’t want to do multi-level marketing, knew I didn’t want to add-on VIP-kid tutoring in the wee morning hours.
So, I told myself to suck it up. There was no “get out of jail free” card.
Classic signs of teacher burnout
I now realize that I had classic signs of teacher burnout. Teacher stress is an epidemic (I hyperbole not!) that should be on the mind of every educator and administrator.
It’s not just “teacher tired” and it’s not just for first year teachers. Teacher stress is one of the major causes of teacher depression and anxiety. Incidentally, it’s important to recognize and talk about this growing trend.
You shouldn’t have to tell yourself to just “suck it up” and “stick it out” as a teacher. Most certainly, just going through the motions means that you’ve lost your teaching joy.
13 Teacher Burnout Symptoms (in no particular order)
- Inability to see the big picture
- Lack of focus and goals
- Lack of self-care
- Always feeling “behind”
- Inability to enjoy day-to-day student interactions (or day-to-day interactions in general)
- Choosing to focus on negative vs. positive
- Updating your resume and LinkedIn profile with “transferable skills”
- Calculating the number of years until retirement with many wistful sighs
- Consuming waaay too many cookies
- Loss of intrinsic motivation
- Less flexibility and openness to change
- Losing your cool (with students, family members, even yourself)
- Feeling like there’s no “off” switch for “teacher brain”
Starting a teacher side hustle
In retrospect, I disliked teaching because it consumed my life. I met with students during my plan periods as well as before and after school. I volunteered for extracurricular activities like yearbook advising and the school newspaper. I did waaaaay too much grading outside of contractual hours.
Something had to change. I wanted a life beyond teaching.
Getting Un-Stuck as a Teacher
I continued to surf the web looking for my “out.” After reading stories of success and listening to an encouraging YouTube video by Kayse Morris, I decided to try my luck on Teachers Pay Teachers.
This wasn’t change, exactly. But at least it was something. It was a step toward getting un-stuck.
I dedicated myself to learning the ins and outs of being a teacher entrepreneur. And you know what? I discovered that my sparkle was coming back.
“So when the world knocks at your front doorClutch the knob tightly and open on upAnd run forward and far into its widespread, greeting armsWith your hands outstretched before youFingertips trembling, though they may be”
– Anis Mojgani –
5 benefits of my Teacher side hustle
After three years, I still haven’t quit my teaching job, although it’s nice to know that one day I may have that option. Right now, I am thriving as a veteran teacher by focusing on what brings me the most joy and working smarter, not harder during the school day.
Beginning my teacher side hustle changed my mindset, taught me new skills, and saved my teaching career.
To sum up my experiences, here are five unexpected benefits of beginning my teacher entrepreneur journey.
When I began to create digital teaching resources beyond the classroom, I re-discovered my passion. I honed in on what makes me MOST excited about teaching: instructional design. To clarify, I love the creative process. Lesson planning and resource creation are my jam. I’m always asking how an activity or lesson can have real-world application. If I can engage students, I feel on top of the world. I feel excited when I try new teaching strategies and share them with other teachers.
Having TpT as a teacher side hustle played into my strengths. In focusing on what brought me the most joy as a teacher, I found satisfaction. Most importantly, as I focused on “what worked” for me in the classroom, I grew into a better teacher.
Learning New Skills
Who knew there was so much to learn as a teacher-seller of online teaching resources?!
Learning a whole new set of skills allowed me to feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. And it was especially rewarding when those skills started paying off!
I’ve been so blessed to find supportive community beyond my classroom walls. “Find your tribe” is good advice for stressed-out teachers. My best tribe was beyond the walls of my brick-and-mortar school. I joined Facebook communities dedicated to teaching. I connected with educators from across the country. Signing up for an awesome course, Transform Your Resources, helped me understand how to be successful as a teacherpreneur and connected me to other go-getter teachers.
Feeling “stuck” was my number one reason for teacher stress and burnout. I also lacked clear boundaries. I let teaching dictate my life, not the other way around.
My teacher side hustle forced me to learn organizational skills and budget my time.
Teaching is a job that will expand to fill as much time as you’ll allow it to fill. I’ve learned to set firm boundaries with my time. I’ve also discovered different ways to manage grading, the English teacher’s ever-present friend. Classroom time is my time with students, so I’ve learned to make the most of it. As a result, I have a much better work-life balance. I’m re-energized and better able to focus in all areas of my life.
I now have a larger purpose as a teacher beyond the four walls of my classroom.
I’m helping thousands of students across the globe. How cool is that!?
I’ve learned that I can set a vision and dream big which excites me and fills me with hope for the future. In starting my TpT store, and then the Lindsay Ann Learning blog, I wanted a distraction at first. Then, I wanted to pay for a few household expenses.
My goals grew from there.
If you want to succeed, success will come.
You can set boundaries and enjoy teaching again.
Click here to download a free workbook that will help you get started selling your teaching resources online.
Like me, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain!