Stanislaw Saluda and Justyna Makarczyk are busy teachers who live in Poland. They are the brains behind the website ESL Brains. Find out what regrets they have as teacherpreneurs and the #1 teaching skill that has helped them to achieve success.
1. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day for this interview. Can you tell us where you teach and how long have you been teaching?
S: We’ve been teaching English for over 10 years. We’ve had a lot of Business English learners, engineers, and IT professionals. We've also taught for 2 years at a university.
J: I’ve also taught some senior learners and my oldest student was 75. Now, we have our own business and give private lessons to adults.
2. Can you describe a typical day?
J: A typical day? That’s a tricky one. Apart from teaching English, we are also involved in many other activities. We’re English translators and Stan works for a large company. Our working day ends at around 7 p.m., but we don’t mind as we’re passionate about what we do.
S: It's hectic but because we don't just focus on teaching, we've gained other experience which we find useful during our classes. For example, working at a multinational corporation means that I understand what’s most useful for students and how people communicate in diverse environments. You won’t find that in coursebooks.
3. Teacher self-care is so important. What do you do to relax?
J: We love long walks around the city. It helps us to relax and sparks a lot of inspiring ideas especially for our website www.ESLBrains.com. We like to grab a cup of coffee from a local café and walk until we’re frozen (it's winter right now). Also we read books daily and from time to time we binge-watch a series on TV. Additionally, we enjoy travelling and eating so we try to go to new places every year.
4. You took on the tremendous challenge of starting a content website. Can you talk a bit about ESLBrains?
J: We started a website with free teaching materials called TED4ESL (now called ESLBrains). There are two things that make it different than any other website with lesson plans: all our resources are based on authentic videos (initially just TED Talks) and we tackle important and up-to-date topics that students can relate to.
S: I think it’s also cool that students can learn something else other than just English. The goal of our lessons is to inspire students and spark discussion. This is something I always missed by using coursebooks because many are boring, repetitive, use outdated topics or have ludicrous recordings.
5. How do you promote or market website?
J: We use free promotional tools such as social media and newsletters. We’ve invested a bit in Facebook ads. We try to spread the word about ESLBrains on teaching forums or social media groups. We also greatly appreciate when other teachers−bloggers write about us.
S: We also hired a professional SEO agency. Thanks to their consultation, we know what to do to get better results in Google. This has been the most effective activity to bring new teachers to our site.
6. Do you do everything yourself or do you hire people with specific skills to help you?
J: We try to do everything on our own because we cannot afford to hire people now. Sometimes when we have a bug on our website or we’re just not able to do some technical improvements ourselves, we hire IT specialists. When it comes to lesson plans and the content posted on our website, we do all of that work.
S: We had to learn the fundamentals of things like html, css, data analytics, and some graphic design. Running a website yourself involves a lot more than just publishing content. Nowadays, you can easily hire freelancers but I like to know what’s going on and be able to tweak things myself. Besides, it’s not as hard as it sounds.
7. Where can we find you on social media?
J: People can find us on such social media as Facebook and Twitter. They can also sign up for our newsletter and receive information about our plans or new worksheets. If you want to have access to exclusive materials or early access to content, you can join our Patreon community.
8. What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?
S: Patience, being a good listener and public speaking. While it may sound like a cliché, communication skills are vital in business.
J: I’d say that patience is of key significance here.
9. What have you had to do outside of your comfort zone as a teacherpreneur?
J: Going beyond teaching meant I had to learn new skills which at the beginning scared me. I was overwhelmed at the start but it turned out not to be hard.
S: I felt anxious about being out there in the open and receiving non-constructive criticism but we receive much more love than hate from people We're happy to receive emails from teachers.
10. 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?
S: What you should fear is that feeling of regret if you don’t try something you’ve always thought about. Don’t wait too long and just give it a shot. Remember, the worst thing that can happen is that you fail but failure is good because you learn from it! The thing I regret the most is that we could have started ESLBrains 2-3 years earlier when we came up with the idea but we were irrationally afraid that it might not work.
11. Is there anything that you would like to add?
S: Visit our website, check out our teaching materials, meet us at Patreon and send us your feedback. The more we hear from other teachers, the better content we can publish. Feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions on creating content, running a website or just want to chat. [email protected] [email protected]
Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview and sharing your advice for other teacherpreneurs!
Interested in learning more about transitioning from a teacher to teacherpreneur but don’t know how to get started? Here are some ways:
1. Read more than 80 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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