Brad Deacon's casual response to his students was the catalyst for his successful teacherpreneur venture - Brad's English Boot Camp. Read the full interview to find out what Brad said! Brad believes that there are potential “teacherpreneur” seeds that are ready to grow within all of us.
Can you start off by telling us where you teach?
My primary job is as a teacher-researcher in the newly formed Global Liberal Studies department at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan.
I am also a teacherpreneur running private workshops through “Brad’s English Boot Camp” (BEBC). BEBC uses a wide variety of activities (discussion, debate, presentations, survival simulations, etc.) primarily to develop participants’ language skills.
How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching in Japan now for about 20 years. BEBC was launched about 5 years ago.
Can you describe a typical teaching day?
I usually have a class or two each day and spend the rest of the time engaged in a variety of other tasks such as: research, committee work, planning study abroad programs, curriculum development, conferencing with students, collaborating with colleagues, managing things (such as how much sugar goes in my coffee), and participating in various meetings.
The BEBC workshops run during three weekends both in the summer and winter each year from around 9:00-5:00 pm each day. I wear many hats!
You do wear many hats as a teacherpreneur Brad so how do you relax?
I suppose I wear many hats when relaxing, too. In my spare time I enjoy playing guitar, cycling, hiking in nature, doing yoga, flying my drone, hanging out with friends, reading, meditating, and among other things…just chilling at home.
You took on the tremendous task of creating BEBC workshops. Can you talk a bit about the experience of setting BEBC up?
The BEBC workshops grew from the needs of a group of students who I used to formally teach at a weekend community college. They were looking for more learning opportunities and to that end had formed their own self-study group to supplement their classroom learning. I became intrigued by their initiatives to learn more autonomously and invited them to participate in a research project on self-study groups that became a book chapter. During the interviews for that project I learned that they were looking for something more to push their English and self-development skills. I casually suggested that they needed an “English Boot Camp” and one member then said, “Brad, you should create one!” That spark became the catalyst that lead to the creation of what would become annual summer and winter BEBCs.
How long did it take you to set up BEBC?
Once I got the idea to launch BEBC (the full name and acronym also came from my students), everything kind of fell into place soon after. In terms of time, it took a lot of hours and energy especially to put together the initial BEBC including the dates to conduct the workshops (outside of my regular duties), the dates that fit for most students, the content, and so on. I also hired a friend to design a logo, which I put on certificates of achievement for the students. It’s hard to calculate how much time went into all of this, but it was and still is a kind of “professional hobby” for the most part in my mind. It’s very enjoyable to both plan and conduct these workshops and the time invested in creating them is always rewarding on a personal and professional level.
How do teachers and students find out about your workshops?
Students always come through word-of-mouth advertising. I cap the workshops to 12 students. As I have a solid network already there is no need to advertise widely. Thus, I don’t have a website or any other way for students to gain access to these workshops from the outside. I will occasionally use e-mail to invite previous participants to join if enrolment hasn’t been met by the deadline, but usually the workshops are full.
Do you have any plans for expanding?
If I were looking to do more with BEBC then I would advertise more widely, however it is a perfect size now as a supplementary professional endeavor that fits within the rest of my life balance.
Where can people find you on social media?
I’m on Facebook, but it has no connection to BEBC.
What have you had to do outside of your comfort zone as a teacherpreneur?
Keeping very accurate records and having a tight system for doing so! Admittedly, this wasn’t a strength in the beginning especially as I wasn’t planning to make BEBC an annual part of my life. As most of the participants are returnees, it is important to keep the workshops fresh and that means keeping accurate records by being on top of what has been done and what might be done differently in the future. This spans the topics, activities, language focus, and so on within each workshop.
I’ve also gained an appreciation for the value of my own time more. A lot of preparation goes into each BEBC and that means budgeting my time accordingly to ensure that I can manage it within my other professional commitments and life in general. I’ve been asked to do more with BEBC, but I know my limits and have kept it manageable in order to stay within my own capacities. Doing too much would be detrimental to the level of value that I am currently able to offer the participants.
What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?
Teaching in a regular class and in BEBC are mostly one and the same, so that particular skill (teaching) transferred perfectly. I also feel that I have the ability to generate good rapport with my students, and thus that helped with appealing to them to join the original workshops and future workshops. The management skills and curriculum design skills I have learned as a program coordinator have also helped me to organize the BEBC program more effectively, as well.
What advice would you give to teachers who are considering running independent workshops such as BEBC?
Make sure you are passionate about it and that you can fit it into the rest of your professional and personal commitments in a comfortable way. Start small and invite the participants to share ways that future workshops can be developed. Focus always on delivering as much value to your participants as possible. This will make the experience more rewarding for both of you. Also, be sure to keep accurate records of everything that you do.
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?
Personally, I would invite those teachers to first of all accept how they are feeling and to allow those feelings to come up. Then I would invite them to look at where those feelings come from. Next, I would ask them to consider what they really want to do and what not taking action is costing them now and in the future.
Is there anything that you would like to add?
I really enjoy teaching (most of the time) and being creative in what I do. There is also a businessman inside of me that enjoys expressing himself, as well. It’s very gratifying to have an opportunity to marry these and other skills through BEBC. They say that one “secret” to life is to find out what you love to do and then find a way to get paid to do it. I feel that I’ve largely done that and hope others enjoy the same success, too. Thanks for taking the time to read part of my story.
Thanks for telling us about Brad's English Boot Camp. It is a great idea!
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 inspiring teacherpreneur interviews at www.teacherpreneur.ca/blog
2. If you are a TESL Ontario member, watch a recording of my webinar Teacher to Teacherpreneur https://tutela.ca/GroupFiles?organicgroup=8594&cat=518
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. Sign up for my 4-week online course with iTDi.pro - Teacher to Teacherpreneur http://itdi.pro/itdihome/teacherpreneur.php
5. Download 10 Tips to Transition from Teacher to Teacherpreneur https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/p/10-tips-to-transition-from-teacher-to-teachepreneur
6. Download The Social Media Make-over Checklist for Teacherpreneurs at www.teacherpreneur.ca
7. Connect with other teacherpreneurs by joining my LinkedIn group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7060976
8. Set up a private coaching call with me https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/pages/book-a-coaching-session-with-me
Connect with me on social media. Teacherpreneurs must be on social media.
My name is Patrice Palmer, OCELT, M.Ed., M.A. I have more than 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Writer. Seven of those years were spent in Hong Kong. I have taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs such as ESP, EAP, Business English, and language programs for new immigrants in Canada. I'm now a teacherpreneur doing the things that I love such as writing books, courses and teaching materials; blogging, conducting instructional coaching for new teachers, coaching teacherpreneurs and travelling at any time of the year. Contact me at [email protected]
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