What is it about us teachers? We never seem to be able to value ourselves. We take our super-powers for granted and then sell ourselves short.
Well all that’s about to change. At least for me, and the teachers I support in the Doremi Sofa.
This month we’re talking about Money Matters. You can read that as a noun, but it’s also a verb. Money DOES matter!
Here are a few of our talking points. Look how each one circles back round to valuing ourselves and treating our work as a profitable business.
Conquer that Imposter Syndrome
Of course none of our strategies are going to work for you if imposter syndrome is stopping you from recognising your value.
Believe you have something to offer that is rare and precious.
Don’t rate yourself against how others seem to be!
That elusive perfection is not being attained by others so stop being overly critical of your own perceived mistakes.
That’s why as part of Money Matters we need to address imposter syndrome too or we’ll never value ourselves. More on this coming soon!
Own your business
Yes, business! Most music teachers I know are self-employed business owners. It took me a long time to come to terms with that, and even now I still feel embarrassed to act business-like. Especially since I was an employed class teacher in a previous life.
We love music, love children and love teaching, so it feels cheap to act like a business owner.
Do you think it’s because deep down we believe that it should be state funded and a valued component of the curriculum? Does the education system value us? It doesn’t always feel like it.
So we need to value ourselves and that starts with how we structure our business.
Stop selling your time
Are you selling your time in 30/45/60 minute slots. If students attend and pay, that’s great. But what if they cancel. If you can spend that time doing something else then you don’t charge. You can read a book, play the piano, do some chores.
The problem with this is your income becomes as variable as your students’ attendance, but your expenses are not. You still have your rent, mortgage, instrument loans, food, utilities, childcare to pay for. Never mind all your years of studying and honing your skills.
When someone signs up for lessons with you, they are not just paying for your time slot. They are paying for your professional skills, your long and short term planning, your creativity and your care and attention. All of that is worth way more than 30 minutes.
Do you know what happened when I started charging for all missed lessons? My students showed up more! Then they made more progress and we all felt the benefit and the value. Teacher, parent and child.
Charge what you’re worth
When I first started private teaching I called the Musicians’ Union to find out how much I should be charging. I remember telling them I was only a beginner teacher. Which is madness in itself because I already had a PGCE and experience teaching in classrooms, plus of course my decades of piano and vocal training.
Their response? “There’s only one rate. THE rate.”
What did I realise?
If I’m good enough to teach, I’m good enough to charge THE rate. If I’m not good enough to teach, I should up-skill first.
If I charge less than THE rate then I will undercut other local teachers who are trying to pay THIER mortgages and THEIR childcare. I might take students away from them purely because I’m cheaper and drive down the local rate making it harder for everyone to make a living.
I need to charge THE rate as a minimum if I’m going to be a worthy member of the union.
What did I discover?
I had no trouble getting students. If a parent suggested they could get cheaper lessons elsewhere I suggested they try them and get back to me if it doesn’t work out. See what I did there? I valued myself and it paid off because they almost always came back!
So hopefully by next week the teachers I support in the Doremi Sofa will be feeling a little more valued and a little less like imposters. I hope you do some work on yourself at home too, so that you can feel the same benefit.