The other day I was scrolling through an English teachers Facebook group I am a member of and stumbled upon this unsettling question from a first-year high school English teacher, “Anyone have a summer job to make some extra income?  If so, how stressful is it?” One teacher responded, “Where I’m from almost all teachers I know have a side hustle. I make fresh salads for co-workers and teach Pilates from home which gets me a couple extra hundred a month.  It’s tough though, as I have a young son at home and all my household chores and quality time with my family to consider, too.  It would be great to make enough money just teaching as teaching is already a very time consuming career.”

The 163 responses that followed the original post confirmed for me that teachers are fed up with the lack of livable wages, have a desire for more creative work, and flexible hours (many enjoy online jobs where they can work in their slippers or choose the time and day they work to fit around their family schedules -- sounds appealing, right?).  

While these teachers, along with EddieB’s hilarious Facebook videos, are spot on, I wanted hard facts to back up all we are hearing in the news today about teacher pay and The Center for American Progress provided just that.  Here are the results of their study:

  • Mid- and late-career teacher base salaries are painfully low in many states.

  • Teachers with 10 years of experience who are family breadwinners often qualify for a number of federally funded benefit programs designed for families needing financial support

  • To supplement their minimal salaries, large percentages of teachers work second jobs.

While the ultimate answer is higher teacher pay, because, let’s face it, that is the most tangible way for people to show that your work has value, there is something we can do in the meantime.   We can take control of our own futures.  We can decide to be our own bosses.  We can determine the growth of our income and our happiness.  We have this ability.  Like Dorothy, we’ve had it all along.  We only need someone to point it out to us.  To tell us the magic combination of clicking our heels three times and reciting, “There’s no job like my own” and you’ll be there.

Ok, so it’s not quite that easy, it is called a “hustle” for a reason.  I looked this word up.  The Pocket Oxford American Dictionary app on my phone reads, “to push or move roughly” or “busy movement and activity.”  Merriam-Webster says, “to obtain by energetic activity”.  This is hard work.  This is for the movers and shakers and busy movement makers!  I do know a number of teachers who have already figured out the magic combination.  They are full time teachers, or were and are now retired, and are successfully working a side hustle and LOVING it!  Keep watching upcoming posts for special guest interviews with teacher-musician Dr. Samuel Stokes, retired-teacher-artist Mary Louise Porter, and retired-teacher-yoga-instructor Scotti Rodgers, among others.

For you busy movement makers, this list is for you:

1. Earn extra income

This is the no-brainer, obvious, and usually, number one reason teachers entertain the idea of a side hustle.  I have heard teachers talk about doing everything from teaching online, tutoring after school, working retail on weekends, summers, and holidays, to starting their own businesses like dog walking, making meals, and freelance writing and editing.   

2. Develop valuable new skills

When I first started searching for my side hustle and trying to determine what skills I may possess that I could monetize, I initially felt utterly dejected.  Everything I thought of required new skills.  I may have had experience writing and publishing or coordinating travel and interviewing authors, but what did I know about building a website or launching a successful online business?  After much research and following of favorite teachers and entrepreneurs with their own successful websites, I began to realize that every new job requires learning new skills.  And I was teachable.  It is in this challenge of learning something new that we grow as individuals.  In the process, we diversify our talents, and add value to our skills in our current jobs as well as potential value in our future line of work.

3. Nurture your talents

Here’s the fun part.  Some of you are outrageously creative and you don’t have the opportunity to nurture that creativity.  If you enjoy photography, cooking, writing, making jewelry, designing new fonts, painting pictures, or creating websites, put it to use, monetize it!  Some of you have amazing knowledge and business sense, but are not sure how to use that outside of your classroom.  How could you turn your hobby or interest in fishing, computers, fixing up old houses, or gardening into a thriving business?  This is your opportunity to nurture your interests and talents (while you have a steady paycheck, health insurance, and retirement) and develop them into bigger and better career opportunities while you follow your passion of teaching in the classroom right now.

4. Gain a sense of purpose

Many teachers I have talked with who have a successful side hustle say that while they started their side hustle to earn extra income or meet a creative need, they soon realized that the enjoyment they found in their new activity gave them a renewed sense of enjoyment and value in their day jobs as teachers.  When asked, would you ever consider turning your side hustle into a full time job, Dr. Sam Stokes, a middle school music teacher and part-time music composer says, “It's hard to imagine ever giving up teaching entirely.  In a way, I think that working to teach the next generation of musicians helps bring meaning to why I write music in the first place.”  This sense of value and purpose goes a long way to increasing happiness and connecting that sense of purpose to what you do every day in your classroom.

5. Expand sources of income

These are scary times in the education world.  There is no more job security in teaching.  Last summer, my district decided they were going to figure out how to save millions of dollars in an attempt to balance their overdrawn budget.  Their answer was to begin cutting “unnecessary” positions from every school in the district.  Libraries were closed, P.E. programs shut down, and class size increased.  I was one of those librarians who no longer had a position.  Luckily, I was asked to teach social studies this school year, but the stress of not knowing if I would be asked to come back again next year has prompted me to be thankful for my rental property, and to stop talking about launching a blog and actually get busy making it happen!  The other day, I read a post by a teacher who said she just found out she would have forty-five students in each of her classes next year.  Yes, 4-5.  You read that correctly.  How is learning going to happen in an environment where the teacher can not possibly get to know the needs of each student?  These conditions are reason enough to diversify your streams of income.  Besides, when you have multiple sources of income, you are no longer at the mercy of your school district. It is empowering.

6. Create flexibility and freedom

I often joke about being stuck in middle school prison.  The truth is, I love my students.  I love my school.  I couldn’t ask to be in a better place.  However, the outrageous fact that I get twenty minutes to eat my lunch (on a good day) and I have to holler at the teacher next door to watch my class just so I can run to the potty, makes me long for flexibility and freedom.  Freedom to create my own schedule, flexibility to go to the bathroom when I actually feel the urge to go (not a half hour or more later when I get my planning period).  If we have to live by these strictures at school, then we should plan to create a side hustle that allows for the freedom of scheduling your work times when you are most suited mentally and physically to being productive and the flexibility for bathroom and brain breaks when you need them.

7. Expand connections and relationships

The internet is truly an amazing tool.  I have been happily surprised at the rich new connections I am making with teachers from across the country, blog writers, lifestyle coaches, business experts, podcasters, website builders, yoga instructors, fitness coaches, young adult authors, spiritual leaders, and motivational speakers.  My world in rural Louisiana no longer feels so isolated.  I can reach out into the ether with my wishes, my desires, my questions, and concerns, and somehow The Universe responds.  While these new “friendships” may not be of the same depth as the ones I spend my face-to-face time with, laugh with, talk with, take walks with, share a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with, but I do believe these people are real, with real emotions, and real desires to help others, to offer a genuine service or product based on their own values and beliefs.  Because I have been brave enough to put my own thoughts and ideas out there, my world has expanded in innumerable, beneficial ways.

Ok, I hear you out there clicking your heels and reciting the magic words, "There's no job like my own," but what do you do when you are not yet sure what your side hustle will be?  Where do you begin?  Some of you may be sold on the idea that you WANT a side hustle, but don’t know how to determine your skills and talents.  If you are looking for more inspiration to help you discover your side hustle and move you in the direction of making extra income while you still enjoy your role as a teacher, I have created a printable workbook to help you do just that.  It includes 10 pages of content to help you discover your soul satisfying side hustle, a resource page with links to recommended books, blogs, podcasts, and a FREE online course, as well as a FREE online strengthsfinder test to help you discover your unique talents.

Click here to access How to Find Your Soul Satisfying Side Hustle: A Roadmap to Creating More Wealth and Freedom While You Follow Your Passion.


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DISCLAIMER: At this time, I do not receive any income from the mention of products or services.  Any products or services listed are strictly my own recommendations based on my own experiences and opinions.