My IQBAR journey, a mum's perspective.
3 months ago, I was a busy single mum with two fabulously exhausting, children and a well-established career as a franchisee running singing classes for babies and toddlers. I loved my singing job, but recent circumstances meant times were hard and extra income was needed. Here's how IQBAR changed everything.
I used to teach in a primary school. I had a good job, actually, for a mum, it was a great job with permanent part-time hours and a senior management role. The thing is, I just wasn't happy, in fact I was downright miserable. I wasn't there to pick my children up from nursery early like the other Mums. My kids were always the ones with their little, snotty noses pressed against the door at 1 minute to closing time as I rushed to collect them. I didn't have time to socialise with my colleagues in the staffroom, as I worked through every break to finish the full-time tasks I had in part-time hours. Nobody really knew I was there, I was always missed off the collection envelopes as they went around the school, I was virtually invisible.
I was exhausted, planning in the evenings, working through the weekends and my "days off" with my toddler were spent catching up on my teaching paperwork whilst my toddler fell in love with CBeebies. Anyone who has taught before knows that it's certainly not a 9am-3:30pm job for 33 weeks a year, and having kids really challenges your thoughts about priorities in life. So I made a decision, my children were (and still are) the most important thing in my life and something had to give. So, I quit teaching. Just like that. I realised I would never, ever get those precious years back with my children, and my boss would easily replace me (or not, as he decided!), and within 6 weeks of handing in my notice I had given up a 17 year teaching career.
It was probably the most terrifying, yet liberating thing I have ever done. I knew I had to replace my income somehow, and I was lucky enough to fall into a franchisee position running singing classes, which I have been doing successfully, and joyfully for 7 years.
Then, I became a single mum and life changed dramatically. Solicitors fees and court costs were astronomical, and surviving on my singing classes salary alone just wasn't enough. I began to explore my options. Should I take in a foreign student? No, that would impact too much on my children, Plus I might actually have to cook for somebody else which would be hilarious. Could I sell stuff on Ebay? Already sold everything! Filling in surveys became a real thing, and I spent hours earning about £2.50, whilst my eyesight rapidly declined!! Then I found leaflet delivery, all of my dreams had been answered! I was actually getting paid to walk around in the fresh air and get fit. The only problem was, it was January, and freezing. That didn’t last long, However I did meet a wonderful lady who runs her own virtual PA company and regularly do evening work for her. It still wasn’t enough though.
So, I took the plunge and decided to look for a part-time teaching position, even after I vowed never to go back to teaching I felt I had to do something. until then I had never even considered teaching online, but it seems to be a “thing“, a “big thing “ and I just couldn’t avoid it amongst all the other teaching positions. My brain kicked into gear and I applied.
I found several online teaching agencies and applied to a couple, including IQBAR. I didn’t really want to get up in the middle of the night for an interview on Beijing time with the other company, and IQBAR got straight back to me interviewed me online and that was the beginning of my journey.
For the first couple of weeks I was on a trial and would get the odd booking for a taster session here and there, but this quickly changed and soon I was getting regular bookings. I started to enjoy planning again, I started to enjoy using my experience and teaching skills that have laid dormant for the past seven years.
My life now
My kitchen has become my temporary classroom and every day I get out my box of props, position them carefully behind me on my kitchen cupboards and instantly transform my dining table and handy kitchen cupboard shelves into my online office slash classroom. At the end of the day I pack everything away again, put the wigs, the puppets, the flashcards and the sssssnake back in the box and serve dinner for my children where I’ve been teaching all day!
And that's what I do 3 days a week! When I'm not running singing classes, I morph into online English teacher, when my kids are at their Dad's on alternate weekends I also get the chance to teach.
When I was offered contracted hours after my trial period, I could not have been happier. The best thing about this was that I could work the hours that I chose, and obviously I chose the hours to fit in around my already busy lifestyle and the school run! Coincidently peak teaching hours full within UK school hours and so it fits in perfectly around my daily routine with my own children. I am able to drop them off at school, come home have a quick coffee and then get started. I teach from about 10 AM until 2:30 PM, fill in my lesson reviews until about 3:15 PM then jump in the car and pick up the children just-in-time after school. I usually have a couple of hours to hang around watching the children ignoring me, or fighting with each other, I feed them and they grunt at me but then at around 6:30 PM I begin to plan my lessons for the following day. This usually takes a couple of hours, but the kids are just chilling, and so it works and fits in with what everybody in the family needs to do
I was worried about the level of support I would receive, as I have never done anything this before. I need not have worried at all, because there is such a wonderful community of teachers who work for this company, and the vibe is so friendly, open and relaxed. We are all part of a team, we share resources, we chat to each other daily, share anecdotes, make fun of each other, we watch each other’s lessons (because we sometimes have to do!) I’m not alone, I’m part of a great bunch of teachers from all around the world, and we all feel the same about working for IQBAR. Yes, the expectations are high, and yes, we have guidelines to follow and we are expected to meet those guidelines, but then, we are providing a superb service and we all want to do the best we can. I have even restarted my own professional development! IQBAR provide tons of online, certificated courses for us to work though adding valuable credentials to my C.V. should I ever (pigs might fly) decide to return to "normal" teaching.
It really has been the best thing to happen to me this year, I love being in control of my own working hours, and I love the fact that I am still able to be there for my children while they still need me, they , are only nine and 12 after all. Most of all, I am using my almost 50 year old brain again! I feel valued, I am motivated, I am part of a team, I am rewarded for good performance, it really is the dream job for me right now.