Sapna Sehgal successfully balances graduate studies, teaching and developing resources for both teachers and teacherpreneurs. Read how a single blog post inspired Sapna to write an e-book and how she is blogging as a way to increase her profile.
Thanks for taking time out from your busy day for this interview Sapna. Can you start off by telling us where you teach?
Well, I teach in quite a few places! For my in-person private classes, I teach English as a Second Language to Spanish children and adults here in Barcelona, Spain. In the past, I taught at language schools in the city, but I now teach English to undergraduates at the University of Barcelona. Online, I help a variety of students, including some students I used to tutor in person in Canada.
How long have you been teaching?
When I was 15 years old I started private tutoring by giving English lessons to the neighbours' children; there were both native speakers and ESL kids. So, I guess that makes it 17 years now!
Can you describe a typical teaching day?
Well, I wouldn't say any teaching day is typical! I love planning, so I make semester-long lesson plans for each private tutoring student and university class I have, a few weeks before the semester begins. Then, each day is a mix of using and adapting lessons, travelling to students I teach in person, and teaching online. Lately, I've been spending a lot of time developing teaching resources for my free printables library, my new e-book on 25 TED Talk Lesson Plans and my upcoming courses for English teachers and tutors.
What do you do in your spare time to relax?
Actually, I have a ton of hobbies! I love travelling (and travel photography), catching up with friends over coffee, playing the piano, weight lifting at the gym, running my dog, skiing and hiking.
You took on the tremendous task of writing a starting a blog and writing an e-book. Can you talk a bit about the process and the reason behind your venture?
Sure! I have always been passionate about blogging, tutoring and becoming an entrepreneur one day, so combining all three is the ultimate dream. I find that free English teaching resources online are not always organized, and sometimes you have to dig through hundreds of sites to come across what you are looking for - and even then the sites are hard to navigate. So, I wanted to create an organized online space where teachers could find free English teaching, motivational and organizational resources - and the free printables library was born!
While I ran a tutoring business in Canada (and have privately tutored in the UK and Spain, too), I love the feeling of having a community that comes with The Teaching Cove. There are over 1000 members so far, and it's growing daily, which is exciting! I agree that it’s a tremendous task full of challenges, but every moment is worth it.
How long did it take you to launch The Teaching Cove?
So, I had the idea for The Teaching Cove about a year before its November 2016 launch. However, I wanted to research more about blogging for income and website development, so I could successfully launch it on my own. Since I am still studying for my PhD in Applied Linguistics and working as a teacher, it took about 6 months of research and learning to set up The Teaching Cove. Luckily, my first degree in business and marketing gave me a bit of a head start, but there was still a huge learning curve.
Since my most popular blog post (by far) is the one on 5 TED Talks To Transform Your English Class, I decided to make an e-book of detailed lessons plans for English and ESL teachers. From start to finish, I'd say the e-book took three months (and a lot of hours!)
I love teaching with TED Talks, but it is a lot of prep work to do it well. I like to include pre-watching, comprehension and discussion questions, as well as follow-up projects so students can learn more about the topics. So, my e-book makes it easy for busy teachers to print off what they need and go straight to class.
I like how you developed a product based on your most popular blog post - TEDTalks. I know that many teachers, including myself, love using them but it is time-consuming. You have made it easier with your e-book 25 TED Talk Lesson Plans for Your English Class. How can we purchase it?
You can grab your copy of my e-book, 25 TED Talk Lesson Plans for Your English Class right here! http://courses.teachingcove.com/?affcode=91807_vcfgsnff
If you would like a free sample of the full first TED Talk Lesson Plan and introduction in this resource, you can download it from the April 2017 section of my Printables Library.
Do you have any plans for other resources?
Yes! I'm very excited for my next two resources - an e-book of my ultimate lesson planning printables, and a whole course to help teachers start their own profitable tutoring businesses. It'll be a much more detailed extension of my free course, 7 Secrets to Starting A Profitable Tutoring Business.https://www.teachingcove.com/free-course-7-secrets-to-profitable-tutoring/
How do you promote or market your resource?
Well, The Teaching Cove https://www.teachingcove.com/ is pretty new so at the moment I'm doing as many interviews and guest posts for other educational blogs as possible, to get the word out there and increase awareness. I'm also working on a marketing strategy for Facebook ads.
Do you do everything yourself or do you have someone help with the technical aspects, etc.?
So far I've done everything myself with the exception of my logo and e-book cover image design.
Where can we find you on social media?
I'd love to have you follow me on
I like the way you have branded yourself and used the Teaching Cove image, logo and name on all of your social media profiles. This is an excellent example for other teachers to teacherpreneurs to follow.
What have you had to do outside of your comfort zone as a teacherpreneur?
Well, using Wordpress, doing a bit of coding, and learning all the technical aspects of running a website has been challenging!
What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?
Patience, dedication and time management would be the top three skills I think transfer well from being a teacher to a teacherpreneur. While setting up a blog, website, e-book or online course seems simple at first, the process is quite complicated and takes time and patience to learn.
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 for it! If you are ready to be determined, dedicated, and work harder than you ever have before, entrepreneurship is for you. I believe that it's definitely worth a try for anyone who wants to share their knowledge - but remember that (no matter how easy business gurus on webinars make it seem), it's not a get rich quick scheme! By the way, I have free weekly Motivational Monday posts and posters that can help get you in the mindset for the tough days).https://www.teachingcove.com/motivate/whats-your-priority/
Is there anything that you would like to add?
Just that I'd really love to have you as part of the Teaching Cove community! You can sign up to join here https://www.teachingcove.com/. Thanks so much for the interview, Patrice!
You are most welcome. Thanks for sharing your teacherpreneur story.
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 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. Check out The Essential Teacher to Teacherpreneur Toolkit 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
9. Connect with me on social media. Teacherpreneurs must be on social media.
My name is Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., TESL and I reside in Canada. I have 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Writer including 7 amazing years 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 courses, blogging, sharing teaching materials, instructional coaching for new teachers and coaching teacherpreneurs. Having a flexible schedule allows me to conduct short-term training around the world at any time of the year.
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