Tom Czaban has learned many skills as a teacherpreneur including how to self-publish his own books. Find out why Tom thinks that trying to make everything perfect is a perfect way to never finish anything and how the habit of intellectualizing everything can bring a project to a standstill.
Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed, Tom. Can you start off by telling us where you teach?
I teach at the University of South Bohemia in the Czech Republic.
How long have you been teaching?
I’ve been teaching for around five years now.
Can you describe a typical teaching day?
It’s difficult to say because teaching at the university is just one of my jobs; I’m also an editor for a university journal, and I have a number of language school students too. I try to plan all my classes for the week on Mondays (in between classes), which makes the rest of the week pretty straightforward. I usually teach three or four classes a day and do any other tasks I might have in between. The one thing I really like about being a teacher is the freedom to organize my schedule (err…and if my boss is reading this I also enjoy inspiring future generations to be the best they can be…)
What do you do in your spare time to relax?
I like to read and write. I also play a lot of sport. I’m not the most patient person, and as a teacher, you have to be patient – so I use sport to blow off steam.
You took on the task of writing a book. Can you talk a bit more about this?
I set up an Amazon publishing house with two friends of mine; mainly because we thought it would be fun to publish our own books. To get things started each of us agreed to write a book. The first book we published (Be Heard Now: The Five Secret Steps to Effective Communication) was an Amazon bestseller, which was unexpected and a lot of fun!
You have a new book 7 Mindsets of Highly Effective Teachers: Become a Better Teacher Today. How long did it take you to write the book?
I wrote the “7 Mindsets of Highly Effective Teachers” quite fast. The chapters in the book started off as a series of blog posts and it was fairly easy to expand them because the ideas had been on my mind for a long time.
I wanted to write a book for teachers that focussed on managing the emotional/mental side of the job as I think this is something that’s often overlooked. I also wanted it to be actionable, with exercises and space for self-reflection.
There are thousands of books about teaching methodology, but barely any about developing the right attitude, and in my opinion, this is the most important thing you can master as a teacher (and perhaps as a human being too…)
How can we purchase your book?
Do you have any plans for a second book?
I’m familiar with Kindle publishing now, which gives me more motivation to finish the writing projects I start (something that has always been an issue of mine.) So yes, I do plan to write another book, but it may not be about teaching this time.
Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
I’ve been producing a low budget ninety-minute documentary called: “The Writer With No Hands.” We’re hoping to release it online before the end of the year. I love seeing things that were once just ideas become something people can watch, read or touch. So drop me a line if there’s something you think we ought to collaborate on.
Unfortunately, in our field, there has been discrimination against "non-native" speakers of English. What advice would you give to non-native speakers of English who would like to use their skills to become teacherpreneurs?
Discrimination against non-native speakers is unforgivable, but if you think about it, non-native speakers have a lot of advantages. For example, they can create better resources for English beginners in their native country (with translations, cultural references etc). If I were a non-native speaker I’d look into starting an English-language learning podcast for beginners in my home country. In my opinion, there may be discrimination against non-native speakers in securing teaching jobs, but when it comes to entrepreneurship it’s a level playing field (where everyone has the opportunity to play to their strengths or even their perceived weaknesses).
Do you do everything yourself or do you have someone help with the technical aspects, etc.?
I don’t do everything myself. Fortunately, my business partners already had staff from their other business who were able to help with certain aspects (Designers, Online Marketing Specialists, Virtual Assistants, etc.)
Where can people find you on social media?
My twitter handle is: https://twitter.com/SelfWealthSoul
What have you had to do outside of your comfort zone as a teacherpreneur?
Everything! First, there was the self-doubt every time I sat down to write, which makes any other task (even awful ones like going to the dentist or doing invoices) seem mouthwatering. I also had to learn about online publishing which I knew nothing about. And then came the worst part of all – hitting publish and knowing my book was out there for anyone to judge.
What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?
Teaching has taught me not to take things so personally. 99% of the time a student’s reaction has nothing to do with you and everything to do with what is happening elsewhere in their life. I think the same goes for outside of the classroom too. When you stop taking things so personally, it frees you up to “put yourself out there” more and try new things, which I guess is a trait of any good entrepreneur.
What advice would you give to teachers who are considering becoming a teacherpreneur?
I would warn them against something I struggle with – perfectionism. Trying to make everything perfect is a perfect way to never finish anything. It’s far better to implement imperfect action to keep things moving forward. Mistakes are not the enemy but stagnation is. As my business partners used to say: “Done is better than perfect.”
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?
They’ve probably heard all the advice before and intellectually they know the answer already (just do it!), but let’s face it this doesn’t make things any easier. The fact is we all have these fears, they’re part of the human experience and there is no silver bullet that’ll just make them go away. But if I were being pushed to give advice (as I am now) I’d recommend they stop thinking so much and start taking action instead. Teachers have a habit of intellectualizing everything, which can bring a project to a standstill. When this happens what should be our biggest strength becomes our biggest weakness.
Thanks so much Tom. Keep us updated on future books.
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, 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 courses and teaching materials; blogging, conducting instructional coaching for new teachers and coaching teacherpreneurs. Having a flexible schedule allows me to conduct training around the world at any time of the year.
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