One common problem that some English teachers may have is filling their schedules and having enough hours during the week. Should this keep you from starting teaching online? What can you do to keep your schedule full? Keep reading for some practical tips!
When I first started teaching English online, I started with a company that found the students for me. All I had to do was make available different time slots during the week when I was willing to work. Easy peasy!
So I knew that I wanted to work part-time, so I opened up the exact schedule I wanted. At first, it was three afternoons a week. I thought “This is great! I have the perfect schedule!”
Quickly I received my first two to three students and had about five hours scheduled for the week. I thought this is awesome, I should have my schedule full by the end of the week!
However, it didn’t happen. I got three or four more students but my hours were still short. I had about 10 hours scheduled, which was good. But it wasn’t the full schedule that I wanted. I waited but after a month I still only had about ten hours.
During the years, I’ve found that many teachers, especially those just getting started teaching have had similar experiences. Sometimes teachers get discouraged or they may hear about others that have had problems filling their schedule and this keeps them from even getting started.
However, with time I figured out some great ways to either get more students or add additional income to make up for the lack of students. Let me tell you how you can do the same!
How to get more students
The most obvious way to solve this problem is to get more students to fill your schedule. There are a couple of ways that you can do this easily.
New opportunities at work
The first way that worked really well for me was to increase my availability in my schedule. I found that the company that I work for used an algorithm to ensure that all the teachers are getting an equal amount of students available to them.
So what did that mean? If I wanted to get more students I needed to increase my availability. So for example, if I wanted to actually work 15 hours per week, I found that I needed to have my calendar availability of at least 20 hours per week. I would rarely work 20 hours per week, but would almost always have 15 hours per week full.
Another option is to find out what opportunities may be available in the company you are working for extra income. In the company, I worked for there was an opportunity to be an evaluator for potential new students.
This was an extra responsibility for evaluating a potential new student to assess their level of English. Normally this was only 20 minutes and would be available as needed and first come first serve.
This proved to be a great way of filling in gaps in my schedule. It wasn’t an enormous amount of extra money but it did add up. Imagine you have a schedule that you want to work 20 hours a week. You have about 13-15 hours planned during the week, with odd gaps in between classes.
With this extra evaluating job, you could fill in several gaps and possibly boost your hours to 18 hours during the week.
Another opportunity that was available in my company was to give sample lessons and pilot lessons. Sample lessons are free lessons the company offers to potential students who are considering buying the company’s lessons.
The company needs to have good teachers who can make a good impression on the potential new student and get them to continue and buy the course.
So I was offered to be one of these teachers. These are extra lessons that aren’t always planned much in advance but are great for filling in gaps in your schedule. The arrangement was that these classes would be automatically scheduled in any free slots on my calendar.
Often these sample lessons and evaluation sessions filled my schedule to my required hours.
For some companies, you may have the opportunity to earn a little money for any new teachers that you recommend to the company that are hired. This can be a good way to earn some extra money.
Not all companies will do this but some like VIPKid, do give their teachers incentives to recruit good teachers and there are many that make quite a bit of extra money doing this.
Get hired at a second company
Another option if you find that the other suggestions haven’t worked for you is to get hired with another company. Essentially working for two companies.
The pros for this option is that you will likely fill your schedule to your desired hours.
You will need to be very organized if you decide to work for more than one company. However, this can be a good way to increase your income and experience.
Other ways to add to your income
Writing ESL materials
If you are a good writer or do well in creating activities for your class, you can either sell the activities you’ve already created or write English training materials for publishers.
There are two ways that I know of that you could look into. First, you can make the materials or lessons and then sell them to other teachers. This is something that takes more work upfront but then you gain passive income from that work. I know of some who have made up to $600/mo in extra income from this site.
- Go to Teacherspayteachers to learn more.
Another would be offering to write materials for new training books. This could end up being a job itself or something that supplements your teaching income.
- Add your profile here to set yourself up to be found by publishers.
Grade testing materials
You can supplement your income by working for a company like WriteScore. They are a company that grades and processes the standardized tests that students in public schools in the US take.
Teachers don’t have time to grade these standardized tests that are done throughout the year. Companies like WriteScore hire and train people to grade these tests.
My wife did this for one year and it added an additional $200-300/month of income which can be a great way to add additional income. You are able to work from home and you can choose when you work as long as you meet the deadline.
Become a Cambridge English examiner
Cambridge English is a well-known organization that does language assessment all over the world. You can apply to become an English language examiner for the Speaking part of the test.
This is not a work from home position however, but you have to be available to go to a testing center near you. I knew a couple of teachers who did this and it worked out well for them. You can find out more about the requirements here.
Rather than teaching general English, the idea is that you would teach students strategies and answers to common questions on tests to help them succeed and prove their linguistic proficiency.
You could easily set up a profile on a site like italki and offer to tutor students and prepare them to pass this test. You could also advertise to do so in your local area, in person.
In addition, you can also let your company know that you specialize in testing prep and you may have additional opportunities available to you for more hours. There are many teachers who have chosen to specialize in this area and only do testing prep.
As you can see there are many options available to help you get the income you need as an English teacher!
My wife and I supported ourselves for over five years teaching English online and while we at times did use some of these suggestions to fill in the gaps, it wasn’t difficult to do!
I hope this helps you to get ideas flowing in case you ever have to deal with this issue of filling up your schedule.
I really hope you got value out of this blog post as you continue your journey towards teaching English online! If you want to keep learning why not subscribe to this blog by clicking here.
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Tell me, are there any tips that you’ve found helpful in today’s post? Comment below!