A few weeks ago, I came to a personal decision. I had a successful interview in my home to teach individual students with a Norwich-based Homestay company. If this happens later this year, which seems likely, I will need to be technically self-employed. It got me thinking.. why don’t I simply register myself as self-employed with HMRC and, therefore, be responsible for paying my own tax and NI contributions in future. After a series of job applications, at the end of last year, in which I didn’t hear anything back, I got a bit despondent. So I thought if no-one else is going to hire me, then I should ‘hire’ myself. I’ve always been ’employed’, never ‘self-employed’. There are advantages in this change of employment status for me personally.
It is a state of mind. My own health and well-being has often been adversely affected by being in full-time work with one employer, the pressures of intensive teaching and living away from home. It is exactly four years to the day that I found myself in a secure unit in King’s Lynn, with little hope and bleak prospects. It is just over three years since I previously pressed the ‘reset’ button and started volunteering as a teacher for Norwich Mind, the mental health charity. I wrote about my future intentions in November 2013 in a post here.
Variety is the spice of life, so they say. By taking on 3 or 4 different roles, I can mix up my working life. Rather than teach regular classes, I will focus on tutoring 1-2-1, mostly in Norwich. Today, I launch my Facebook page advertising my services. I believe that I have to start small, build up a reputation once more and work on promoting myself. I will be extrinsically motivated to get involved in different things and to make it sustainable. I have just started volunteering as an ESOL teacher and mentor with a refugee charity. I also hope to be doing some IT and social media work soon for Mind. This still leaves me free to teach online and to do some promotional work for the Teacher Training Videos website.
By going self-employed I am regaining control of when and where I work. I can mitigate some of the pressures that caused me to start jobs and not stay in them for long. I am feeling fairly positive now, buoyed by my decision, but it will take some effort to ‘rebuild’ myself. Especially over the next few weeks as I recover from an unexpected road traffic accident on 4 February, which I walked away from with just a minor fracture of a metacarpal in my left wrist and a badly bruised rib cage.
If you are reading this and live in the Norwich area and would like to have lessons with me or know someone that might be interested, please do not hesitate to get in contact. My first lesson (meeting) is free and further lessons can be negotiated. More information can be found on my ‘About’ page on here. Even if you are not an English student but am interested by my change in employment status, I would really appreciate your support and advice. Especially if you have made this move yourself.
I taught for two years from home. While I thoroughly enjoyed it, I did feel isolated and alone. However,you seem to have solved that by working in different roles and socialising with other people. The one other issue,(and this was huge for me), was taking payment for teaching! In my case, I was teaching Au-pairs who earned very little. I found it really difficult to ask for money at the end of the lesson. If I did it again, I would charge by the term (but again, they wouldn’t have had it).
Having said all that, I loved it. I loved the flexibility of choosing my own hours and really getting to know the students. They became part of my life and I’m still in contact with a lot of them. So, go for it; just be better-prepared charging for your services than I was.
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Thanks for your comment, Margaret. I am determined not to get isolated again. Just doing homestay or online teaching will not be sufficient. I need face-to-face contact away from my home. Being involved in other non ELT related things as well as maintaining a work-life balance is important. Charging is something I have to do, which I will have to apply consistently. I’m not a mercenary, but will need to be clear that I am not doing it for free. There are commuting costs involved. I wouldn’t want to do a disservice to the profession by under charging, but I need to consider students’ financial constraints, too.