Nomadic Teacher

helping you teach anywhere and have the life you deserve

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Location Independence

Teaching online is a fantastic way to develop location independence and have the ability to travel anywhere and truly be nomadic.  Many digital nomads are teaching online, both within the formal educational system or teaching their own workshops.  This is of course my personal goal with Nomadic Teacher and with teaching online in general.

Before we cut the lines and sail off on our travels we do have a bit of a wait.  With two of us having children from previous marriages we are bound a bit by the location we were when we were divorced.  At least until the youngest two turn 18 in another 8 years.  That is plenty of time for us to make sure we have secured our location independence and we do have some flexibility within our current situation that we put to work for ourselves.

We both have work areas in the house, we both try to keep a flexible schedule, and wonder about and work in random coffee shops around Southern Maine and Southern New Hampshire.  That way we can keep the nomadic teacher lifestyle of freedom and independence while still keeping a home base to keep the courts happy (you of course never get the courts unhappy ever). 

I enjoyed a bit of that freedom and independence today, instead of walking the kids to school we rode our bikes, after they were at school I kept going.  Riding my first ride of the spring I realized it was still just a tad too cold for riding in the mornings.  No podcast, no audiobook, no student work, no conference call, no course development… just the wind.  And it was being still just a tad too cold for riding in the morning a wind it was.  It’s been three hours and I don’t think my fingers have recovered.

I am very much looking forward to the warmer weather and think I will need to bring my bike back and forth to the lake this summer and scope out some outdoor venues that have Wi-Fi.  With eight years to decide on our first longer stay venue we have time to look but should also enjoy leveraging the nomadic lifestyle here at home.

There are different aspects of location independence.  The hardest for most people to get is that location independent source of income, after that it’s usually the courage to go for it.  For us we’ve got those licked, and just need for the legal location independence which has its date.. June 2022.  

There are also different mindsets of the nomadic lifestyle.  And we do our teaching as shorter range nomads, which works well for us in our current circumstances.

So whatever you think is going to make becoming a Nomadic Teacher impossible is probably not a permanent obstacle and none of us should ever give up or lose hope.  There is always a way.  And every step is a step.  Do what you can and enjoy your freedom.

Finding Work – Vs – Building Work

20140310-172336.jpgOver the past few months I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between finding work and building work.

Online teachers seem to fit into one or more of three basic employment categories.  Full/part time Employees, Independent Contractors, or Entrepreneurs (Edu-preneurs?).  Mixing things up with working for an formal school K12, University, Community College, working for companies, or designing their own unaffiliated courses.

These days unless you are a full time employee then health insurance is a concern for those based in the USA.  With the recent changes to the law it is now much easier to find and afford health coverage which raises a new and very exciting question.

Is it better to mix things up?  How would you want to structure yourself?  Do you still want to hunt down a full time online teaching job at a stable university?  Do you want to adjunct for 3-4 different universities and broaden your influence while driving your own research agenda without the need for politics?  Do you want to strike out on your own, develop your own set of courses or professional workshops and rake in that much more money?

I am personally finding myself more drawn to the latter.  As I finish my doctorate this year I am feeling that there might be more security in having a combination of several teaching positions between several schools in addition to a set of my own online workshops.  What do you think, has the new availability of affordable health care changed your online teaching goals?  Are you feeling the entrepreneurial pull as strongly as I am ? 

Where do you work best?

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One of the challenges of being a Nomadic Teacher is discovering the best routine, and where you work best.  That is something I am struggling with.  I honestly prefer to work in silent places, meet people in coffee shops, and my wife who is also a Nomadic Teacher LOVES the noise of a coffee shop when working, and when not in a noisy environment she will talk to herself while she works and ask a tremendous amount of rhetorical, keep her on track, questions that I often falsely interoperate as questions for me.  My solution is that wherever I am, my headphones are never far.  I keep a playlist called “Working” which only includes instrumentals or music in other languages so that I can stay focused (yes I am that easily distracted).

Today and many days I end up trying to see how much I can get finished at home on the dining room table before anyone else is up.. well that’s the plan at least until the snow melts.  Then it’s on the back deck all the way.  So this is where I’m working from today. Outlining course materials, procrastinating writing a Syllabus, and avoiding recording an audio lesson on how educators can leverage Aggregators.  I’ll get it all done though.  And all before the kids get home this afternoon.

So where do you work best?  Kitchen Table, Coffee Shop, Library, Park Bench, Aft Deck of a Sailboat (that last one is my personal goal).

Working at the in-laws

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Working while the kids are on vacation is a challenge.  But having the flexibility to take the children’s vacation up with the in-laws for the whole week is very nice.  Unfortunately Monday was a travel day and I didn’t wake up early enough today to get all of my work done before the children woke for the day.  Luckily I’m finished “enough” for the day before noon so there was some x-country skiing on the lake after lunch as a family.  As for getting ahead.. always with the time shifting, with luck I can get up two or three hours before anyone else in the morning.

 

Working in the Car

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We all do it from time to time.  I’m no exemption.  Today I spent part of my time working in the car.  I was of course waiting for my children but those are the best times to get a tiny bit of work in.  One of the things I enjoy best about being a Nomadic Teacher and Teaching Online is that I can take time in those moments to get ahead.  Best part of it isn’t the getting ahead, rather the best part is that when the boys were back I had my work done and could focus on the time we have together.  So working in the car wasn’t the most glamorous part of my day, but walking downtown with my son to grab a green juice at the new juice bar was a pretty great way to spend the time I would have had to be working if I hadn’t taken the time to get ahead when I was alone waiting in the car.

Building a routine with children at home in winter

Snow Day MindCraft

Snow Day MindCraft

Over the past week or so we have had several children home sick, several snow days, and quite a bit less work done then I was hoping to get done through the week.  As the week progressed and we moved from a sick kid to several healthy children all snowed in the house for the day my productivity and my patience both took a significant hit.

We all understand the importance of a routine.  For myself I check in with my classes first thing and hit the discussion boards, then check my various emails, and then review assignments.  Once that is done I review my personal favorite project management tool Asana.com and tackle the single highest priority item until it is finished and then move on.  Having a daily routine is important for all of us who have things to get done but even more important for those working from home.

Perhaps if I had older more independent children I would have been able to still plug along and get my work done without any hiccups.  I do not however have independent children.  I have three rambunctious boys, a young dog, and when they are all home a level of noise that is quite remarkable.

Working while my children are in the house and “conscious” is a frustrating exercise in futility.  Headphones help but generally I can get approximately 120-300 seconds of uninterrupted time when they are home.   The entire exercise simply gets us all upset.

The secret that I have found is to try and wake up several hours before they do each morning they are home, get my work done while they are still sleeping and then accept the reality of non-working times when they are home and “conscious” I use the word conscious because there are times when I can toss a 10 year old an iPod touch with MineCraft installed on it and they enter this state of un-conciuousness where they are quiet and still enough for me to get some work done.

So for me, my steps to mitigate productivity with children are:

  1. Try and do my work before they are awake.  I was able to do my work after they were in bed when they were smaller, but they have reached the point now where they exhaust me and there is nothing left when they go to bed.
  2. Use headphones if my wife is around and running primary child support at the time.
  3. Toss them a mind numbing piece of electronics in a crunch.
  4. Accept that there will be no work done and shut it all off, grab the kids, drag them outside with me and just play.  I can always work the next morning at 4:00am.

Ultimately working from home with children takes a great deal of flexibility and acceptance.  The best advice I ever received was from my sailing instructor, he said the first step was to “Accept” which way the wind was blowing.  And on a snow day if you want to get any work done you’re going to have to adjust your sails and your trip probably won’t be in a straight line.

For me that means accepting the snow day as a day to focus on the boys, and making sure I get to bed early enough to fit the work in before they wake the next day.  What is your strategy for dealing with snow days as someone who works from home with kids?

The Nomadic Teacher Project

I have several goals with the nomadic teacher project but primarily within 3 months I want to have completely replaced my income.  And within 6 months I want to have doubled my income.  All from simply working online from my laptop wherever my laptop may be.  Day one starts today.. Can I replace my income within 90 calendar days from today?  Lets find out.