Teacher mindset Disclaimer
I wrote this post before COVI-19 and I considered not publishing it today, but I did some research and decided that your teacher mindset is extremely important now more than ever. Today’s post is about teacher mindset related to income.
Income is a sensitive topic right now since we are experiencing so much uncertainty. That being said, I want you to remember that circumstances don’t dictate your life if you work hard, educate yourself, stay focused and determined. Consider successful businesses from the Great Depression in the 1930 Forbes article below.
Excerpt from Forbes
“But the recession has been selective, not universal. An examination of the record discloses certain industries and certain outstanding corporations in other industries which have withstood the forces of business reaction. As for industries, the volume of sales and the profit of water companies have been wholly unaffected by changes in the business cycle. On the other hand, in the automobile industry, which has faced a drastic shrinkage in demand, the Ford Motor Company has forged ahead. In the last year, there has been a growing preference for low priced cars, and purchasing power has been directed toward units which appear to give the greatest value. The same phenomenon is experienced in other industries. The book trade has been greatly depressed, but the Modern Library, which concentrates on 95-cent volumes, has reported a prosperous period. Evidently its product has synchronized with the prevailing mood of the economy.”September 15th, 1930, Forbes Magazine
This excerpt is proof that we shouldn’t give up, especially being that educators are in high demand. We’re in one of the industries that can continue working right now despite the circumstances! So let’s get started with teacher mindset. Ready? Set. Go!
Teacher Mindset & Online Business
The economy needs businesses that will thrive during a crisis in order to employ people, serve customers and create cash flow. A lot of educators are creating online businesses. Now more than ever, the Internet is an educator’s best friend for increasing income. It’s a great place to get started because it’s low-cost and the audience is global. You don’t have to start a business, but this post discusses working towards higher pay as a teacher and starting a teacher business. I’m writing it to inspire you and challenge your mindset about what a teacher salary can be. If you believe that anything is possible, crisis or no crisis, keep reading. If you think this post will bother you, please don’t read it or come back to it when you’re ready.
When we think about a teacher’s salary we think something along the lines of, “They’re in it for the love of teaching, not the money.” Today, I want you to challenge that mindset by thinking outside the box about how to increase your income as a teacher, whether you’re a brick and mortar teacher or an online teacher. Surprise yourself by creating a teacher mindset that proves you are capable of more than what you thought possible.
Consider this: what you think is possible can either be a big bag of gunk holding you back or a rocket launching you forward. You see, society has these lovely standards that we abide by and conform to. These standards serve us well in many ways by making the world functional, but sometimes those standards need to be challenged. Let me give you an example.
Example of adjusting your Teacher mindset
A few weeks ago I watched the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance with Matt Damon and Will Smith (warning: spoiler alert). Matt Damon plays a war veteran who suffered from PTSD and lost his golfing talent as a result, until Will Smith’s character set him straight.
Damon got dragged into participating in a golf tournament against two impressive players. He lost his pro golfing swing capability after serving in a war. Yet he kept trying to prove his worth to the crowd because he was playing by society’s standards rather than his own. That led him to fail. Smith’s character taught Damon to play his own game, not the crowd’s game. He taught him to get laser focused when he went to swing. He focused on his game instead of the crowd and in the end he won the tournament. That’s exactly what I want you to think about when you work on your teacher mindset.
Instead of buying into society’s standard of what a teacher’s salary is, start creating your own standard.
Don’t Play Society’s Game, Play Your Game
Society’s game: Teachers earn a middle class income or maybe even less.
Your game: I can earn whatever I set my mind to if I stay focused and work consistently toward my goal no matter what the economic circumstances are.
Playing your own game means challenging the status quo by taking actionable steps that are in your control to earn more. I’m talking about considering all of the possibilities whether it’s applying for leadership opportunities, negotiating your pay or building your own educational business.
There are more and more teachers making six and seven-figure businesses. Those teachers inspired me to challenge my own mindset about my pay as an educator. I started taking actionable steps to increase my income in the education field. We’ll get into those steps shortly, but first let’s take a look at how mindset works.
Carol dwek mindset theory
Carol Dwek’s mindset theory is about believing whether or not you can do something. For example, do you believe you can help a struggling student succeed? Do you believe teachers can earn six-figures without being on a hamster wheel of trading time for money or waiting until the end of their careers for a major bump in pay? If you answered yes, you have a growth mindset. If you answered no, you have a fixed mindset.
Eeeek! If you have a fixed mindset, does it pain you to hear it? Maybe you’ve got that pit in your stomach or you have your heels dug into the ground at the thought of change. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can have a growth mindset.
Carol Dwek found that the major difference between those with a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset is that people with a growth mindset have grit. It comes down to the age old adage, “If you think you can. You can.”
developing a growth mindset in teachers
Let’s talk about developing a growth mindset in teachers. First of all, it’s totally normal to have a fixed mindset in some areas of life. We are human!
Sit back. Take a moment. And think! What are some areas where I have a limiting belief or a fixed mindset?
First, write out all of the areas you have a fixed mindset. Then highlight the areas you believe are holding you back the most right now in your life? Last, reverse your fixed mindset statement to a growth mindset statement and write a list of steps to start making changes.
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Example Steps for Developing a growth mindset
Fixed mindset statement: I have a fixed mindset that working as a teacher means earning a limited salary.
Change your fixed mindset statement to a growth mindset statement. Make sure it’s something you believe in! If you don’t believe it, it won’t work.
Growth mindset statement: I have a growth mindset that I can start taking steps to increase my teaching salary without running on a hamster wheel.
Then think about the steps you need to take to start moving toward your goal. Be realistic!
It took me two years to get promoted teaching online, but it was because of the small steps I took. If you want to learn more about the power of small steps, I highly recommend the book the Slight Edge.
What steps did I take to increase my income as a teacher?
- Create a website that offers tips, advice, and strategies for teachers (Happy to have you here!). It took me a long time to post consistently, but it was one of the first steps I took and one of the longest to develop due to the lack of effort I put into learning how to blog.
- Start a YouTube channel to share tips and stories with teachers. This was the area that got me noticed by my peers and management at online ESL companies.
- Create a business account on Facebook and Instagram to share valuable content with teachers
- Offer courses and resources for teachers on my website and Teachers Pay Teachers
If any of this overwhelms you, remember that this all happens by taking baby steps. I encourage you to watch this video starting at 5:50. Casey Neistat talks about focus and getting out of your comfort zone. You’ve got to fight for what you want and stay focused on your one big goal.
growth mindset stories
Just like Casey Neistat says in his videos, you can’t get comfortable. You have to fight for what you want. Take a look at how some of my teacher friends and I thought outside of the box to expand our teaching careers. Even if you don’t want to start your own business, use our stories as inspiration to take a leap toward whatever it is you do want.
In 2016 I quit my job as a public school teacher because I wanted more freedom and creativity in my work. I was thrown into entrepreneurship without realizing it. I had a lot of skills to share: Spanish, writing, and coaching other teachers to name a few. My old teacher mindset was very conformist. I used to think: As a teacher I will only ever make a middle-income salary. Despite being thrown into entrepreneurship, my entrepreneurial spirit didn’t completely develop until a year after quitting my job as a middle school teacher. Even then, I still had some limiting beliefs to work on, which I’ll discuss below, but first let’s start with what I did right after quitting.
One of my former colleagues set me up with an interpreting company. That job was on an as-need basis, and I wasn’t needed too often because they already had a lot of interpreters. I couldn’t rely on that income alone and interpreting was not my passion. I still loved teaching so I started applying to online schools.
At first I focused on US-based online schools, but one day I found a Chinese company called VIPKID. I wasn’t even sure if it was a trustworthy company, but I figured I had nothing to lose so I applied. At that time, in 2016, there were not a lot of YouTube videos to guide people through the hiring process. Even though I was an experienced ESL teacher, they wanted a very specific style teacher. Despite having a master’s in education and 11 years of teaching experience, they offered me the lowest pay. I was still excited about the job, but I realized that there was a learning curve to teaching online. That realization would come into play a few months down the line.
One day VIPKID was having a contest. They wanted teachers to share their favorite teaching moments from 2016. I decide to make a video montage of my classes and posted it to YouTube (this video is no longer available). I already had a channel for adult ESL students, but I wasn’t gaining much traction. Well, this VIPKID video got over 16,000 views. I accidentally found that online teaching was something people were looking to learn more about on YouTube.
From that point on, I made video tutorials to help online ESL teachers because I knew the application process wasn’t easy. Remember that learning curve I mentioned above? What a great way to serve other teachers! That’s when my mindset slowly changed to a business-mindset. Even then, it took me awhile to realize that I could make more money than I was as a brick and mortar teacher.
I had some limiting beliefs in the beginning. I didn’t think I could recruit because I thought, “other teachers are already dominating the market”. I didn’t think I could get promoted because I thought, “how am I going to stand out amongst the crowd?” I didn’t think I could get higher pay because I thought, “I’ll never be a super animated teacher who does TPR.”
Don’t let your fear stop you
My mindset was all a bunch of mental junk holding me back! Don’t use my mindset. Luckily, despite the negative voices in my head, I kept making YouTube videos with a smile. Those videos got me noticed both by teachers and companies. Let me emphasize that getting noticed took time. Remember, it’s about steps!
In fact, the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of iTutorGroup noticed one of my videos and asked for my advice about how the company could improve over the phone. It was exciting at the time, but nothing came of it until a year and a half later. When iTutorGroup reached out to me a second time, they offered me the highest pay (which I negotiated thanks to my mindset shift), and that led to getting leadership positions (they weren’t handed to me, I sought them out) such as training and lecture classes.
slow and steady wins the race
Patience is important. You can’t expect overnight results, but you can look forward to opportunities knocking at your door if you stay consistent. If I had taken those negative voices in my mind seriously I never would have increased my income. I now make more than I did as a brick and mortar school teacher and I’m creating a course for online ESL teachers so they can do the same. I’m teaching beginners the skills and strategies that online ESL companies are looking for and I’m teaching veterans how to recruit and work towards leadership positions.
For years, I wanted to build my own business, but I had no idea how to. Quite honestly, I was stuck. Stuck in a mindset that kept me trapped. Trapped for a very long time, even after I started my TPT store, Teach2Write. Trapped until I started hearing ka-chings. You see, everytime I made a sale on Teacherspayteachers, my phone would make a cash register sound. One day I kept hearing them – ALL.DAY.LONG. I had created something that teachers needed and wanted. That was in late October, two years ago. In November of that year, during Thanksgiving break, I made ten products. I didn’t even know what I was doing. I continued making products and had 40 made before the next school year.
Hire a coach
That summer, I researched information about how to grow this fledgling little business that I had named Teach2Write. Then, I found a business coach who changed everything for me. She made me see what was possible. My business earnings doubled in ONE year. I also met a lot of great friends, one of whom is Nikki Lubing. We had a blast at the TPT conference in Austin last year and we talk almost daily through messaging and Zoom calls.
Now, I have a vision. I help busy teachers teach writers the writing strategies and techniques that improve writing skills with joy and ease. I now have over one hundred products in my store, and I still have plans for many more. I’m also creating a course for young writers, and a writer’s workshop for teachers. It’s amazing what’s possible when you open your mind to the possibilities. One thing I can say about the growth mindset is that FEAR is your mind’s biggest enemy. You have to work past the fear. You have to move forward even when you feel overwhelmed and outdistanced by others. Find your tribe. Find your inner strength and create your own path.
Steps to success from Kathie
- Learn your craft – if you’re going to make something, learn to do it well.
- Market yourself – don’t be afraid to let others know you can help them solve a problem.
- Research – read about how to grow your business. Watch videos. Practice and try new things.
- Narrow your focus into what you LOVE. Hyperfocus on doing what you love. Help people with that – whatever it is. I have always loved writing. Your passion will help you push past the fear.
- Surround yourself with like-minded people who are driven to succeed and from whom you can learn new things. These same people will also support you when you are feeling the fear.
- Take a deep breath and allow yourself some peace. Spend time with family and friends when you need a break. This will renew you and sustain you when things get tough.
When I started my teaching career back in 2014, I had no idea how things would shift for me in the upcoming years. I always loved teaching, but I knew that I wanted to be able to take an extended maternity leave and be a work-from-home-mom for a while with my future kiddos. Therefore, I looked for online opportunities that would help me do that… and I have personally found the process of doing a YouTube channel (Abundantly Minimal), selling my lesson plans and activities with my husband on Teachers Pay Teachers (Mr and Mrs Social Studies), and creating online courses is the way that works best for me.
Progress, not perfection
When I first started, I really didn’t have much of an idea of what I was doing, and while I knew why I was doing it, I did not know how everything was going to evolve. However, I chose to take imperfect, yet consistent action in each of the parts of my business, which gave me a lot of chances to practice and improve my skills. Eventually, things started gaining traction, and this year I decided to take the risk of leaving the classroom to work on my businesses full-time. While there have been ups and downs, it is an amazing feeling to know that I do not have to depend upon an employer to pay my bills, and that my income is not fixed.
Let’s face it. Teaching in a brick and mortar classroom doesn’t pay a lot. I want to travel and live a life that isn’t paycheck to paycheck. So I decided a few years ago to sell my teaching resources online.
At the beginning of my business I made some money that was enough to afford some small luxuries but nothing big.
My revenue wasn’t increasing so after a couple of years I didn’t put forth a lot of effort into my business. I just let it stay stagnant and didn’t work on growing it.
So a couple of years ago I decided that I needed to make changes. Without making changes my business would never grow. Here are three things that helped me get back on track and grow my business:
- I invested in knowledge. I needed to LEARN how to grow my business. So I enrolled in online courses. And I continue to take online courses because there’s always something new to learn.
- I worked on my business after teaching in the classroom.
- I joined a community of other teacher authors that helps me stay on track and supports me.
Even if you’re nowhere near starting a teacher business, these stories are meant to inspire you and show you that the possibilities are endless, especially in the online sphere. You can start with something like teaching ESL online and grow from there. To help you hone your growth mindset, let’s take a look at some growth mindset language.
growth mindset language
In the section on developing a growth mindset I told you to write a fixed mindset statement and to change it to a growth mindset statement. Let’s take a look at some growth mindset language so you can practice some daily affirmations.
I believe I can ______________.
If I take small steps each day I will achieve success.
My hard work and dedication will lead to results.
Focus and consistent work will lead me to my end goal.
growth mindset quotes
Anytime you start to doubt your ability to achieve your desired outcome turn to some growth mindset quotes. Here are some of my favorite.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” -MLK
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” -Henry Ford
growth mindset goals for teachers
Growth mindset goals for teachers don’t have to overwhelm you. All you have to do is think of your goal and take one step toward it. If you do feel overwhelmed do a brain dump. Write down all of the ideas that come to your mind and get them on paper. Then prioritize them. Make a list of the goals that will serve you best right now. After you’ve made your list take your first actionable step.
growth mindset for adults
Growth mindset for adults is probably harder than it is for kids because we are set in our ways. One thing I didn’t share is that our brain is still flexible no matter how old we are. The only way new habits form is through actions and commitment to taking those actions daily. Whatever you decide to do first, make sure it’s something you can commit to long-term so you stay the course.
If you need a teacher mindset coach I’ll give you a tip right now. Write down your favorite inspirational quote and read it daily. Then say your daily growth mindset affirmation aloud and take one step toward your goal each day even if it’s just 30 minutes a day. Those three small steps will allow you to be your own coach. Of course, if you have any questions you can reach out to me too at firstname.lastname@example.org I help teachers get started with a career teaching ESL online.