When I write about working from home I caution my readers not to romanticize the reality – I give up stability, normal working hours (although I am slowly building towards normal hours, more on that another time.), and many of the perks of a “regular job”. I always acknowledge that I’ve traded these things for the convenience of staying at home and pursuing a flexible career.
Let’s talk a bit about what I get in return for my trade.
I work for three different companies.
Company one, the company I’ve been with for the longest, is a Chinese company focused on educating Chinese children. It offers one to one classes and they have designed the curriculum. Students book me at the time they prefer and I try to make the process of learning English fun and interesting with games and lots of smiles, virtual high fives and rewards.
Company two I am new too. It offers one to one classes as well as group classes with as many as six students. This company focuses on adults, however, and they take student from all over the world. In a class I might have a few people from Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, or Germany! These classes are also focused on teaching the art of conversation by supplying students with useful sentences, natural back and forth examples and pronunciation guidance. They will have already studied the basics like vocabulary and grammar on their own – I’m just there to help bring it all together.
Company three is the leas formal. There is no powerpoint or directed class goal. Really it’s skype built in to a web platform where the minutes spent on a call can be easily tracked. This offers a one to one video connection and the goal is unstructured conversation practice. Think of it this way – someone in a foreign country has spent a lot of energy learning English but doesn’t know if they can take what they know in theory to the real world with effective conversations in English. This company is their way to connect with native English speakers, practice, have interesting conversations and get some advice along the way.
What all of this means is that I spend my day talking to people around the world, literally. They tell me about their homes, the culture and the politics, their travels and their experience with travelling. They tell me what they do for work, why they like it and what makes it difficult. I learn about and sometimes meet their families.
Secretly, I think I learn so much more than I teach.
I am so lucky to genuinely smile throughout my time working. Even in hour 12 I am still smiling my face off listening to a 6 year old describe their day at school.
I could work less. Twelve hour days, even if they only happen once or twice a week, are undeniably overkill. Nobody is forcing me to open my availability and allow that many bookings. But its so hard to resist when I know I will more than likely enjoy all 12 of those hours!
I mean, the paycheques don’t hurt either.
Don’t we all have that person we are at work? That personality we fold up and tuck away in an office drawer when we’re done for the day? I sure do.
She likes tea – and need a lot of it. But she’ll drink diet coke if there’s no time to make tea. She is obsessed with her planner and anything organizational.
She’s got a bit of a sticky not problem/addiction, and she’s not seeking help.
Sometimes her pets make guest appearances in class.
Her favourite students are the ones that laugh with her or tell her about different cultures.
The practice platform does not require me to send formal feedback to the people I meet but the other two are more formal education platforms so my students always receive feedback. That is how my teacher identity got her name – from my introduction:
Hello, my name is Carmen and I live in Canada.
… to my sign-off:
Sincerely, Carmen in Canada.