Let’s talk about extra money; a subject many of us teachers are instantly interested in. I teach outside of the middle school I am employed by. I don’t necessarily make any money off of it, but I do it. My tuition to a great martial arts gym is paid for because I teach a weekly judo class. It saves me over a grand a year, which is great, and I get to share one of my favorite activities. When I pass on what I know about judo I get energized. There are few constraints, save for the formal etiquette which I totally believe in practicing. The only pressure I receive to produce high performing students when I teach judo comes from the students. It’s a great gig, even though it’s unpaid.
I also write blogs, teach yoga, and occasionally tutor; all usually for money. I have taught primitive skills outside of my classroom, but not for money.
My wife is a school counselor and also employs herself after school hours. She is a therapist. She trained extensively in multiple therapeutic modalities, and her training helps immensely when it comes to counseling teens in a high school. She does not conduct therapy in the high school she works for however; there’s probably not enough time. My wife dedicates one night a week to working with private clients. She doesn’t always have clients; it’s not a steady job. It’s a competitive field in our community, and one that is full of full-time therapists. Yet she does it, and feels a deep joy when working one on one with clients.
Both of us, along with several educators I know, have something pretty significant in common when it comes to the moonlighting we do. We all are passionate about our side jobs, and might even fantasize about doing them full-time. Passion factors into quality of life, even if the pay is low.
If you think I am just another idealistic teacher know that the fact that I place value on quality of life does not make me visionary. Just look at the title of this article: Quality of Life is the Most Important Indicator for Predicting Survival of Patients with Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.
Does passion for the work you do improve your quality of life? In order to answer this question we should first, like all good thinkers, look at the definition of QOL. According to www.collinsdictionary.com quality of life is, “The general well-being of a person or society, defined in terms of health and happiness, rather than wealth.” I know that teaching judo is a unique skill-set that makes me healthy and happy. It improves the quality of my life. My wife chooses to utilize her unique skill-set when she offers private therapy on a sliding scale payment, after working a full day in a busy school. What could be an extra stressor is actually something that is both nourishing and interesting.
Quality of life is often pushed to the side when time is being prioritized, and money needs to be earned. Improving the quality of our lives only makes us better teachers, and better role models for our students who will always do as we do, and not always as we say. What work outside of work improves your quality of life? What interesting skill set, be it compassion, robotics, aroma-therapy, do you wish to share?
Nicholas Philliou, 7th grade humanities teacher in Durango, Colorado