Teacher Tuesday: The Art of the Side Job

Life / Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Hi Friends:)

Whenever I tell people that I’m a teacher, they almost immediately tell me, “You must love getting the summers off.”

And I raise my eyebrows and say “Uh, I guess I will someday enjoy taking a summer off, but I’ve worked every summer since I was 14 so….”

Teaching pays pretty well, don’t get me wrong. My salary allows me to live in a decent apartment in a decent area, drive a decent car, and enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle. But I also have a passion for traveling and I am also in the process of saving up for a down payment on a house. Not to mention the whole “running is expensive” thing. I have consistently turned to supplementary sources of income over my 7 years teaching.

This isn’t uncommon for teachers, especially younger teachers who are lower on the pay step ladder. I can’t tell you how many times I have run into teacher friends behind the registers at my favorite stores or behind the bar at my favorite restaurants. I haven’t turned to retail or food services (yet) but I have held many, many side jobs over the years. Below, I’ll share the highlights- and lowlights- of a few of these side jobs.

  1. Saturday School: In my 7 years teaching, I spent 4 of them teaching on Saturday mornings. Sometimes I ran tutorials for students who were trying to pass their high-stakes standardized tests. Other times, I delivered remediated reading and writing instruction to kids who were struggling in their classes. Saturday School looked different depending on the school, but there was one shining similarity among the three different programs I worked within that I really, really struggled with; I had to be up at 6:45am every Saturday. This had a huge impact on my social life, not to mention I never really got to catch up on sleep I’d missed during the teaching week.
  2. TutoringI provide one-on-one support to students in several academic areas, and I used to do a lot of test-prep tutoring, as well.  I charge a fair price for my tutorial services and I live in a high-demand area. Therefore, It’s easy for tutoring to take over my life. I’ve had to set limits about how many clients I can handle on a regular basis; I tried to cover 5 kids a week one time and I nearly died. Now I stick to 2-3 sessions a week, and I try to pack them all into a single afternoon so I don’t have to keep up with it all week.
  3. Coaching: Ugh, coaching. I thought I would love this, but it turned out to be really rough. I coached my school’s hip-hop dance team, although I have no hip hop or competitive dance experience. I am great with the logistical aspects of coaching, such as bus scheduling, attendance lists, communication with kids and parents, etc. Know what I’m not good at? Being at work for 12 hours every day, plus attending 2+ games a week, and being dressed fancy and in full makeup by 9am for competitions in school gymnasiums. Feeling totally useless choreography wise. I also don’t love having to deal with additional teenage drama on top of the teenage drama I deal with in my day job.
  4. After School Enrichment Substitute: I actually liked this one a lot. The school I worked at in New York had fabulous after school enrichment activities for the kids. I wasn’t in charge of any one activity, but I acted as the substitute for some of them. I subbed in for 6th and 7th grade homework help, as well as elementary school art club (CUTE OVERLOAD). I had a lot of fun getting to know other kids from the school who weren’t in my classes, and helping them learn new skills was super rewarding. I also enjoyed filling in as needed rather than being tied to a daily duty.
  5. SAT Proctoring: This is also one of my favorites, although it is also desperately boring. If you’re lucky you can sneak in reading a few pages of a book while you’re overseeing a silent room full of students taking an incredibly high-stakes exam. But for the most part you’re just staring out into the room from an uncomfortable chair, practicing the art of meditation like Siddartha beneath the tree in Bodh Gaya, waiting for the test to be over so you can go to brunch with your squad.
  6. Clinical Studies: This sounds super messed up, I’ll admit that. But I live in Boston and there are always medical studies going on that need participants to gather data. I’m not about to try some new and untested medications or anything like that, but when I’m promised $500 to fill out a questionnaire and get a free bone scan that I probably needed anyways, I AM SO IN.
  7. Selling Homemade Baby Gifts: So, I am pretty crafty. I can sew, and I’m able to re-create pinterest projects pretty successfully. I started making baby blankets and diaper cakes and burp cloths for family baby showers a few years ago, and every once in a while I’ll get a call from someone planning a shower who has seen my work and wants me to whip up a few things. I charge $40 for a custom, 3-tier diaper cake OR  blankie, if you’re interested.
  8. Camp: I have spent most of my teacher summers working at or directing summer camps for kids with social cognitive disabilities. It’s incredibly challenging work and I feel that I earn the 3.5 weeks of summer I do have free with the 3 that I spend working at camp each summer.
  9. Teacher Inquiry Team Leader: This wasn’t directly unpleasant, but making teachers do things other than the job immediately at hand is never an easy task. In my role as Inquiry Team Leader, I basically had to sit with several other teachers during our lunch breaks, examine student work samples, identify areas of need and create strategies and materials to address those areas of need. I led the conversations about the work samples and kept detailed notes of what we did in each of our weekly meetings. Teachers examine work in an effort to inform thier instruction all day erry day anyhow, so being forced to do it all together in one room while someone takes notes often feels like you’re just putting on a song and dance for administration.
  10. Grading Standardized Tests: This was by far the worst of my side jobs, but also possibly the best paying. For two weeks, I spent every afternoon from 4-7 and every weekend day from 9-3 in a hot, NYC Public School gymnasium being yelled at to “GRADE FASTER! THE SCHOOL UP THE ROAD ALREADY GRADED 10,000 TESTS!!” by some woman in a paisley skirt. It was a reign of terror and I hope never to experience it again.

It’s kind of nice that the number of side jobs I’ve had is a nice, rounded-out ten.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my side-job adventures! I’ll be back soon with some fitness updates and a recap of my girls weekend/FIRST POST-INJURY 5K later this week!!

Now You Tell Me…

  • Have you ever taken on an odd job to make a little extra money?
  • Financial planning/money saving tips, anyone? 

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