Tara Gaines, a 15-year veteran of classroom teaching, started hosting classes on Outschool after the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down. She found joy and opportunity in teaching online and appreciated the freedom to teach what she loves. When it was time to head back to school in-person, she found she wasn’t ready to give it up.
We spoke with Tara about how she finds balance for herself and her family while working full-time at an international school and teaching part-time Outschool.
Find a schedule that works for you
Tara spends around 8-9 hours each weekday teaching 1st grade in her classroom at an international school in West Africa, then an additional 1.5-2 hours teaching from home on Outschool Monday-Saturday.
“I’ll teach for about half an hour in the morning before I go into the classroom. It’s around 4:00 when I get home. I have two kids of my own, so I spend a couple hours with them, and then I start teaching at 5:00 or 6:00. Then [I teach] another half an hour after they go to bed.”
When it comes to time management, Tara has two big pieces of advice:
- Sticking to shorter classes can help keep your schedule from becoming overwhelming. Tara primarily teaches 30-minute ongoing or multi-day classes.
- Always teach what you love. Teaching on Outschool, for Tara, is something she looks forward to each day – not a chore she has to add to her schedule. She says, “Find the thing that you really care about and want your learners to love and care about, too,” then design classes that reflect those values or interests.
Create passion-driven curriculum
When asked what motivates her to continue teaching on Outschool even with a full-time job, Tara said:
“I do really enjoy teaching the subjects that I’m teaching and the students I’m teaching. I just adore it. In the [in-person] classroom right now I’m teaching 1st graders, and I usually teach older kids. So [on Outschool] I get to teach the levels that I’m more experienced in and enjoy. I also really enjoy the way Outschool is set up.”
Outschool allows Tara to use her years of experience teaching academic subjects and outdoor education to create classes based on her own interests. As she says above, though she currently teaches a younger age group in person, she mainly teaches ages 7-12 on Outschool (which aligns with her teaching experience). Her online classes are an outlet for her to utilize skills or activities she’s familiar with from former teaching positions or invent new curriculum that matches her passions.
Set boundaries and know your limits
“You are only human,” says Tara. Tara acknowledges that it can be a challenge when returning learners that you love start to run out of classes to take with you. Setting boundaries on how much time you will spend on Outschool can help prevent overwhelm and preserve the fun.
“I do get requests for different scheduling and things. I want to do it, and then I realize that I only have X amount of time… So while I’m teaching a 4th-grade math camp, I would love to have a 5th-grade and 6th-grade [camp], but then I don’t have the hours to actually provide it.”
If Outschool is not a full-time commitment for you, Tara recommends deciding how many hours you’ll devote to your teaching business each week ahead of time. Once you’ve established what works for you, don’t shy away from saying “no” to pushing yourself past your limits.
Involve your family
Tara makes a point to include her husband and children in her Outschool business whenever possible. Her kids are the right age to participate in her classes, so even when she’s working from home, she’s still able to spend time with family by enrolling them in some of her courses. “My husband is actually also a teacher, and I’ve been trying to get him going on Outschool,” Tara says, as an additional way to bring her family into her online teaching experience.
To join Tara in making Outschool a family project, consider how you could invite your family to participate in your classes, help you test out new activities, or build their own teaching business alongside you.
When asked what advice she’d give to an educator considering teaching on Outschool in addition to working a full-time job, Tara says, “Make sure you love it! Make sure you’re teaching the things that you really care about and are interested in.” Adding teaching on Outschool to a full-time schedule can have its challenges, but if you find joy and fulfillment in teaching your passions, it makes it all worth it.