Planning for Freelance ESL Teachers

It’s scary how fast a day can burn by, isn’t it? Have you ever wondered to yourself what  you had done and achieved, but were unable to give yourself a solid answer? I sure have, and it’s frustrating.

I know you know about planning. You are likely used to planning out your lessons, and setting out your schedule for the week. I’m also sure you’re awesome at making sure your students finish their courses by the time you had promised. Old hat, right?

Your freelance teaching business is more than preparing a class, and ending your course on time, though those are mighty important things to be doing. But if you’re not intentional about it, you will find yourself ONLY doing that kind of ‘ground level planning.’  You know what I mean? The day to day stuff.

I have had this happen to me many times. It leaves you vulnerable to things like students moving on,  or what happens if your course suddenly gets cancelled due to budget cuts, or a natural ending like you actually finish the course with your student and they no longer need to work with you. What happens then?  A big shock, that’s what!

Your students will come and go, I bet you’ve noticed that by now, but you don’t have to react to it! Instead, why don’t you try this idea to help you become a proactive ESL freelance teacher and business owner:

Theme your week: I am still learning how to apply this to my business, but I love what Michael Hyatt has to say about it in this podcast/videocast. It’s well worth your time listening or watching, promise.

The idea is to give themes to each day, or group of days each week. To help prepare for and solve the problem of a ‘surprise ending’ to one of your classes, you could try something like giving every Monday the theme of ‘Prospecting.’ While you may have other things to do during the day, you should focus your work around hunting for new students and clients to work with.

That could include hunting for and reaching out to new contacts on LinkedIn. It could be meeting old students for coffee, and checking to see if they had any referrals they could pass along to you. Or maybe it could be picking up the phone and trying to set up a meeting with that potential client you’ve noticed. Whatever you decide to do that day, the overall focus should be about prospecting, or whatever theme you placed on the day. Make sense?

Strategic importance of giving each day a theme: As you adopt this idea and make it your own, it will help you avoid the gravitational pull or tunnel vision of your day to day activities. Just to be clear: there’s nothing wrong with the normal collection of activites we all need to do, but danger lurks when those activities are ALL you do. So try giving each day it’s own special theme, and make sure you have an even balance between short term and long term.

Themes? What themes? Still not sure what themes would work for you? Here are a few I am considering for my planning:

Prospecting: hunting for, researching, and reaching out to new clients. Why? I don’t want my work to run out!  Focus: Mid to long- term planning.

Course Planning: Looking ahead in my course material, thinking about my student’s needs, thinking about how I will deliver course work, writing down lesson ideas in my notebook, researching points I am not sure about etc. Focus: short and mid-term planning.

Social Media/Blogging: I’m still working out this one, but this would be when I think about what I want to write about here in this blog. Reading. Research. Sending updates to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.  Focus: Short and mid-term planning. (I tend to post to social media every day at some point, so that could be a mini theme for each day I suppose.)

What about you? What themes would you assign to your week? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.


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