Adam Gootnick's experience teaching in Thailand was the inspiration behind the formation of his company Journey to Teach Abroad. His advice for teacherpreneurs? If you feel passionate about your venture, go for it. Once you’ve made that decision, your fears turn into excitement.
1. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day for this interview Adam. Can you tell us where you teach and how long have you been teaching?
I'm a Los Angeles, California native. After living and teaching in Thailand for over a year, I grew so passionate about helping others discover what I experienced that I started Journey to Teach Abroad. The whole experience was transformative - traveling a beautiful country, bonding with international explorers, and teaching children who want to learn.
2. Can you describe a typical day?
While in Thailand, the morning started with a glass of water, a cold shower, and 20 minutes of stretching and meditation. I drove my scooter to school and upon arrival, I planned my lessons. During this time, I did my best to plan engaging lessons around creative games and activities. I wanted my classes to be unique and fun, yet effective. I taught 25 hours a week and around 360 total students. I taught 2nd grade all the way up to 12th grade and loved the variety. When classes were dismissed, if I didn’t tutor to make some extra money, I met up with my small community of foreign teachers and explored the local markets or restaurants for a bite to eat. I really enjoyed the simple life of living in a small town.
3. What do you do in your spare time to relax?
My passion is soccer. I find myself most relaxed, but also most anxious (lol) watching the English premier league. For exercise, I hike and do yoga; and for nightlife fun, I enjoy a beer at local bars and attend concerts.
4. You took on the tremendous challenge of starting a company. Can you talk about it?
Towards the end of my experience abroad, I felt so passionate about helping others discover what I experienced that I started Journey to Teach Abroad. After some research, I learned there wasn’t a simplified process for teaching abroad that came anywhere close to my vision. I wanted to provide an entirely stress-free top quality experience from sign up to day 1 in the classroom.
Our in-person 5-day teacher training TEFL certification course in Los Angeles prepares students for a 4.5 month life-changing experience teaching abroad. The training is interactive and culture-specific and teaches practical teaching concepts to give people the confidence for living in Thailand and teaching. We guarantee a teaching job in Thailand.
5. Where can we learn more about Journey to Teach Abroad?
6. Do you have plans to expand?
At the moment, our 2019 courses are culture-specific to Thailand. In the near future, we plan on expanding domestically to other U.S. cities and rolling out culture-specific courses to more countries that trainees will be guaranteed teaching jobs at.
7. How do you promote or market Journey to Teach Abroad?
I share my program in person at universities in the Los Angeles area. I speak at student organizations and in college classes (with professors' permission). J2 also has developed an online presence through brand creation. We have focused our efforts through social media, video, advertising, and blog writing soon. I also network and simply talk to whoever wants to help!
8. Do you do everything yourself or do you hire people with specific skills to help you?
I wear multiples hats at the moment building J2 from the ground up. However, I have hard-working campus representatives at the various universities in L.A. I also have project-based writers and social media marketers. We all communicate very well and I am excited to build a company culture around incredible values.
9. Where can people find you on social media?
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/journeytoteachabroad. This is a place to ask questions about teaching English abroad and to get inspired by doing so!
10. What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?
As a teacher, you learn to adapt on the spot. Lesson plans serve as great outlines for your classes, but your planned lessons never go according to plan. I have learned to expect the unexpected. Some classes are slower than others. Sometimes students fail to understand the concept in the time you intended. You might have extra time at the end. These are situations that occur every day and I have learned to be creative and think on my feet. I have learned to follow the pace of my students, rather than dictate the pace as a teacher.
At Journey to Teach Abroad, I’ve had to change my model and adapt to what is working and leave behind what isn’t. I have learned to expect a change in plans. This happens more often than I had thought.
11. What have you had to do outside of your comfort zone as a teacherpreneur?
I characterize myself as an outgoing individual who has near to no fear of reaching out to others. J2 has tested my confidence by challenging me to ask for help, communicate effectively with employees, talk with interested prospects, and share J2 in front of large audiences.
12. I talk to many teachers about their fear or doubt in trying something new or "putting themselves out there". What advice would you give to these teachers?
Go with your gut! If you feel passionate about your venture, go for it. Fears and doubts are natural. I have mine, but I have learned to cope with them, talk back at them and limit their power.
I have told many people about teaching abroad that there is no ‘good’ time to click the deposit button. You have to just say ‘hey, why not, let’s go for it.’ Once you’ve made that decision the perspective changes and your fears turn into excitement. I encourage you to do the same! Take the leap!
13. Is there anything that you would like to add?
My motto is to ‘explore the unfamiliar.’ Take that with you wherever you go!
Adam - thanks so much for your interview. You are an inspiring and creative teacherpreneur with a great future. Keep me posted your work.
Interested in learning more about becoming a teacherpreneur? Have a look at the following resources to get you started:
1. Read more than 85+ inspiring teacherpreneur interviews at www.teacherpreneur.ca/blog
2. Sign up for my free 5-day email course How to Start your Side Hustle https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/pl/60868
3. Download The Essential Teacher to Teacherpreneur Toolkit - 50 pages packed with information to get you started as a teacherpreneur at http://www.teacherpreneur.ca
4. Download 10 Tips to Transition from Teacher to Teacherpreneur https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/p/10-tips-to-transition-from-teacher-to-teachepreneur
5. Download The Social Media Make-over Checklist for Teacherpreneurs at www.teacherpreneur.ca
6. Connect with other teacherpreneurs by joining my LinkedIn group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7060976
7. Set up a private coaching call with me https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/pages/book-a-coaching-session-with-me
8. Connect with me on social media. Teacherpreneurs must be on social media.
My name is Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., CPP. I have more than 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Writer. I spent seven amazing years teaching in Hong Kong and have taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs. I now work as a teacherpreneur doing the things that I love such as writing books, courses and teaching materials; coaching teacherpreneurs, travelling at any time of the year and applying the science of positive psychology to all my work (www.patricepalmer.ca). Contact me at [email protected]
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