The Accidental Teacherpreneur

By - Patrice Palmer

In December 2016, I left my job as an ESL teacher after 20 years (including 7 incredible years in Hong Kong). I had known for a year or so before I left that it was time for a change because I was feeling uninspired and tired. I felt the need to learn some new skills and travel at any time of the year, not just school breaks. I craved a creative outlet but I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do.

Becoming a "teacherpreneur" happened by accident. The previous year, a friend of mine asked me if I could write an online course for him. I really enjoyed the experience of writing something unrelated to teaching English. That same year, we attended a 4 day seminar for people who were interested in becoming coaches, authors, speakers and online course writers. I assumed that I would learn about writing more courses for my friend but ended up thinking how I could use the information to launch a freelance career. My thought was that I could work as a freelancer writer and online teacher in Costa Rica or somewhere hot during the Canadian winters but I kept thinking that I wanted to do more.

Then I started noticing the words “teacherpreneur” and “edupreneur”. I didn’t have any idea what these words meant but after a lot of reading, I decided that it was what I wanted to be.

teacherpreneur (n): an educator who continues to teach and designs and develops resources, products and/or services outside the classroom to earn additional income

The difference between a freelancer and teacherpreneur is that a freelancer gets paid per hour/project whereas a teacherpreneur designs a product/resource that sells while he or she sleeps. This is what is referred to as passive income. Being a freelancer means the constant search for new work and the realization that a person can only work so many hours a week. Passive income frees up time to work on other creative projects or activities.

Transitioning from a classroom teacher to a teacherpreneur didn't happen overnight. I needed to learn many news skills through research, reading and watching webinars. I needed to learn about social media and email marketing. I started blogging to build up my own mailing list. It has been a huge learning curve but a lot of fun as well. It has also been surprising since I did not specifically set out to become a teacherpreneur when I left classroom teaching a year ago.

I now spend my time doing the things that I love such as writing courses and resources, blogging, and instructional coaching for new ESL teachers. In addition to this, I also help teachers transition to teacherpreneurs by sharing current content, connecting teacherpreneurs around the world, and coaching. I have written Teacher to Teacherpreneur Toolkit: How to Earn Additional Income based on my personal experience and transition. The idea of teacherpreneurship is growing as I recently presented at a TESL Conference in Canada to 90 teachers; have an online course with and a webinar in the new year with TESL Ontario.

I believe that teacherpreneurs do not have superpowers but are just regular teachers like you and me. If you are interested in learning more about transitioning from a teacher to teacherpreneur but don’t know how to get started, here are some ways: