187: Part time; Online

I work a full 40 hour week, plus. Well, that’s not exactly true: I teach school, and I am contracted for 25 contact, face-to-face teaching hours per week. Great, huh? BUT the school requires that I show up at 8:00 am every day and I am not supposed to bug out until 4:00 pm – except that I have carpoolers who ride with me to and from work, and one of them can’t leave until 4:30 pm, which means that I put in a “free” 30 minutes every day. That adds up in a week, and over the year, to a number of extra days at work.

As most of you probably know from the complaints you see in the news, schoolteachers are not paid at a level commensurate with the number of years of preparation we undergo in order to be certified to teach, not to mention passing various licensing tests (like doctors and lawyers and accountants do), plus having to undergo update training courses every few years in order to renew our teaching license (like doctors and lawyers and…well, you get the picture). My pay, however, does not come close to matching what those guys earn. And I have to do it in front of a classroom of children. I have seen grown men, steely-eyed captains of industry, quail and literally, visibly cringe at the thought of facing that challenge. Especially if they knew what my remuneration was for doing it 180 days each school year.

I, myself, actually don’t complain too much about the money. I kinda figure that the job pays fairly well, considering how much time off there is (and man, do you NEED it). Plus, I don’t know too many people who go into teaching, actually choosing the profession, for the money. We are looking for other rewards besides the money. At least, all the teachers I respected and hung out with were concerned with other rewards than money. That is not to say that if they quit paying me today, that I would show up for work tomorrow. Lofty ideals aside, I like to eat at least once a day. I’ve gotten kind’ve used to that. And I prefer wearing clothing suitable for the weather. I have also gotten used to having a roof over my head, thank you very much, and all of that stuff costs money. I won’t do it for free, because I have to live, too.

Anyway, when you are working a job that takes 40 plus hours a week, that does not leave much time for extras. If you need to supplement your income for whatever reason (children in college, daughter getting married, graduation, graduate school, retirement, major car repairs, extensive dental work, emergency fund, etc., etc., etc.) finding time to work that in is rather problematic. I already took on tutoring two children at my school who needed a little extra help with their levels of spoken and written English at the first of the year – that fills up the extra thirty minutes I volunteer to stay extra at school each day. That adds a little cash each month that we save up for vacation time,so we can actually do a little something then. Still need more (always).

What I finally found is an online, part-time job that uses the education degrees I worked so hard for, and paid so much money to achieve. There is an online tutoring site, one among many, that actually strives to do what it advertises: help students do their own work, rather than doing their work for them. It is called BrainMass.com, and they accept teachers who have some verified courses beyond the Bachelor’s degree as independent contractors on their site, answering student posted questions. Students buy Brainmass credits, and bid credits to have their questions answered. It takes a little practice to know how long it will take to answer a question, and if the student’s bid is worth taking for the time it will take to complete a solution.

At first, I answered everything I could under my areas of expertise, and I learned that BrainMass maintains a solution Library of already-answered questions. Students can search the archives for a question similar or the same as their own, and can then pay a reduced fee to download the answer. Each already-paid for solution of mine that is downloaded this way earns me about a dollar: residual income on work I already completed for someone else.

Since I have multiple degrees, I qualified for five subject areas to answer questions upon: English, Education, Art History, Fine Art and Computer Science. I’ve been doing this long enough now that I have amassed a pretty good Library stock of already-answered questions, and even if I answer no questions in any given month (never happened), the Library solutions generally add up to about a hundred US dollars all by themselves. My very best month was right at 750 US dollars. Plus, since I began four years ago, they have expanded the site: you can now write how-to booklets to sell on various topics that I teach everyday, and I can video a lecture to upload, and teach people online what I teach in the classroom. I have not branched out to that yet.

The nice part about this is that I can work it when I have time. I can log in 24-7 and see if there are any questions posted that I have time to answer. Plus, BrainMass pays me on the 15th of the month each month what I earned the previous calendar month, using a free account I set up on PayPal. Since I usually get paid at the end of the month as a teacher at my regular job, often this mid-month money has been a lifesaver. And, PayPal has a business credit (debit) card that I can use to withdraw my BrainMass money in cash, or I can buy products with the card, or online, or pay bills online. PayPal automatically converts BrainMass Canadian dollars to US funds for me. It’s pretty painless, I am helping students finish their own work, using the degrees I earned.

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