How to Become a Teacherpreneur – Q&A with Marina Kladova

 

I met Marina at the 6-week Delta Module 2 course in London back in summer 2015, and we’ve kept in regular contact since. Having been an active advocate of teacherpreneurship over the last few months, presenting two webinars in February and starting up a teacherpreneurs Facebook group, she gave a presentation about teacherpreneurship at the 2017 IATEFL Conference in Glasgow last Thursday (the link to the recording is at the end). This is a short interview with her regarding the concept of being a teacherpreneur (teacher + entrepreneur).

Before we start the Q&A, I’ll throw in my two cents. I’m fully on board with this philosophy, as teachers usually have a lot more to offer than just lessons. Teacherpreneurship can also be a great source of motivation for a teacher, and this obviously has positive effects on all facets of life. It was a factor in me deciding to work with two Latvian friends to organise our own English summer camp here in Latvia this summer, for example (details coming soon!) It’s about taking risks, of course, and not being afraid to fail, so I can see how it ties in with the growth mindset I try to integrate into everything I do.

Important to note that at no point is anyone saying that being ‘just’ a teacher isn’t enough, as it can be an incredibly influential job , but if you have a little more time and energy, you can give more and get just as much back. Education is a very slow-moving industry, but concepts like this can transform teachers’ attitudes, and most importantly, improve students’ education by introducing new ideas and experiences back into their learning.

Edurio CEO Ernest Jenavs mentions education’s entrepreneurial void in his Ted Talk:

A mentor once told me that innovating in education is really easy because you don’t actually have to innovate; you just have to do what business was doing 10 years ago”

This is worth changing, and teacherpreneurship is a dish on which to serve up important changes, for your students, your school and yourself. Over to Marina…

Q1. What is teacherpreneurship?

Marina: Teacherpreneurship is a mindset towards a teacher’s career based on leadership and a relentless search for opportunities to make a difference, share knowledge and expertise and create something innovative and unique. It can be both for profit and non-profit.

Others have slight variants of the same concept:

Teacherpreneurs are classroom experts who teach students regularly, but also have time, space and reward to incubate and execute their own ideas – just like entrepreneurs” – Berry.

Teacherpreneurship is having a passion and wrapping it in a message that is so powerful that it inspires others to transform teaching and learning” – Shelly Terell.

As a teacherpreneur, I work to create unique experiences for students that supercharge learning and increase engagement” – Vicky Davis.

Q2. How did you become interested in teacherpreneurship?

Marina: I’ve been self-employed since 2010. I didn’t open my own school as I made a business plan and saw that I’d earn more from being on my own, with less stress and more free time. But I’m curious, bold and ambitious, so I was always looking for different opportunities – how to earn more, how to create something new which can help my students and fellow teachers, how to make a difference. I started noticing this idea of teacherpreneurship which aligned with my attitude, and saw examples of the philosophy in action:

  1. TubeQuizard – Prepared exercises and puzzles for subtitled YouTube clips. Developed by Olya Sergeeva, shortlisted for 2017 ELTon awards.
  2. Trendy English Games (website in Russian). Run by Elena Peresada, it promotes gamification in English lessons through a community of teachers.
  3. TED-Ed Club Interlingua. Conference in TED format in Voronezh that allows students to practise becoming better presenters and to express their own ideas in English.

Q3. If I’m a teacher, why should I take an interest?

Marina: We as teachers have got a lot of transferrable skills like people management, planning and social skills which we can use in other domains of our lives apart from teaching. Being a teacher can be tiring and sometimes if we’ve been teaching for a long time, we may burn out and lose interest. Going beyond the classroom and doing something else (e.g. social projects for students or teachers, materials design, teacher education or consulting etc.), we challenge ourselves, leave the comfort zone and through this we develop professionally and personally.

So teacherpreneurship isn’t about leaving teaching. It’s about using skills we’ve developed in other projects to bring even more back into the classroom in a constant loop of development.

Q4. If teachers are doing their own thing, couldn’t this be a threat to staff cohesion and academic management? “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM'”, as they say. 

Marina: I’m more a freelancer, so I don’t work for any institutions and therefore I’m researching this concept from my point of view. However, being a freelancer and teacherpreneur isn’t about being in a vacuum. Teacherpreneurship involves a lot of networking and collaboration after which new projects are born.

On the other hand, in Finland they train school teachers on developing a teacherpreneurial mindset, and it’s in their ‘teacher competences’ framework. I discussed this issue with my colleague who is a school owner and now we’re looking at ways in which this concept could be applied in her context.

*James – It can only be considered a threat to staff unity if a. the teacher stops performing his/her basic duties and b. academic management feels anxious about colleagues’ ambition showing them up i.e. classic fixed mindset and not what we want.

Q5. What are your top 3 predictions for EFL teaching in the next 10 years, which might require teachers to think outside the box (teacherpreneurship) to stay in a job?

Marina: 1.There will definitely be more freelance and self-employed teachers who will go global and on a bigger scale. So with the development of tech we’ll be able to teach classes of 1000 people from all over the world. Also, we’ll be able to personalise learning by giving differentiated materials and homework based on learning analysis and access to lots of authentic materials.

2.We’ll have Virtual Reality schools and many more sensually engaging resources. Our students could experience what characters from text/audios speak about and will be more involved in learning.

3.Frankly speaking, I believe that in 10 years there’ll be no need to learn a language – now we have a synchronous translator from Skype based on voice recognition technology and machine translation. We also have google glasses and other wearable devices to assist us and I believe that if we keep going at the same rate of change, there’ll be little need to learn English. I’m preparing myself for this by looking around and trying to find some alternative professions for me.

How can teachers find out more?

– Watch Marina’s presentation at the IATEFL Conference HERE

– E-mail Marina directly: teflteacherpreneur@gmail.com

– Join the Teacherpreneur Facebook group and share ideas with fellow professionals from around the world. Contact Marina Kladova for an invite.

Further reading

Teacherpreneurs: We’re Here to Inspire, 2016, Davis, V., Edutopia.

Teacherpreneurship, Terell, S.

An Online Course: From Teacher to Teacherpreneur, 2017, Palmer, P., iTDi.

Atlas of Emerging Jobs, 2015, Skolkovo.

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What do you think? Are you already a teacherpreneur? What could you do to become one? Please leave a comment!

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