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Freelance teachers who used to work in public schools may have proposed to a parent that their child needs homework help and suggested an older child to give the much need support. Why would a teacher propose an older schoolchild to give a younger schoolchild homework help? Surely, the older child is not experienced enough to give tuition?

The older child may not have years of experience in teaching, but he does have the knowledge to pass on to a lower class schoolchild who’s struggling in the métier. And both the child and the parents are happy to give pocket money to the older child for his help.

Taking your teaching skills for granted

What does this have to do with freelance teaching, you may ask?

There are many freelance teachers who also struggle because they cannot believe their teaching skills has a value to society. It’s a common phenomenon in highly skilled people. They develop a tunnel look and only see their own flaws and imperfections. It’s a disastrous recipe for any teaching business!

It’s a fact, that the more expertise and the more years of experience you gain, you’re also at risk of this phenomenon. The more expert you become, the more you recognise what you don’t know. You become acutely aware of what you have done wrong in a lesson or workshop. You’re acutely aware what you left out or didn’t have enough time to go through with your students or customers. You develop a bad conscious because you focus on the flaws in your work. As a result, you wonder why anybody would pay for your tuition because you wouldn’t pay that amount of money for them!

The Crux of the problem

Unless you actually trying to defraud people, you have no reason to see yourself a fraud. You have certain skills you can offer the world, and whether or not you don’t appreciate them, other people can. You may not see yourself as a 10 on the old sliding scale, maybe you’re a 5, but let me tell you this: To people who are a 0, 1 or 2, your 5 might as well be a 10. You have value they need.
(Dave Navarro, 7 Steps to Playing a Much Bigger Game, The Launch Coach)

The crux of the problem is when your self-confidence resists charging an good fee or lesson rate because you know you’re not perfect or don’t feel ready.

Revaluing your teaching skills

But neither was the older schoolchild perfect! However, he had at least one year’s more knowledge than the struggling schoolchild.

Unless you are planning to defraud your students and customers, there is no reason to believe you are or see yourself as a fraud. Was the older schoolchild being a fraud when he helps the younger child with his homework? Whether or not you don’t feel like an expert, your potential students and customers do. They want your expertise and knowledge and appreciate having found a person who can instruct them.

Freelance teachers must consciously shift the inward stare in the quest for perfection outward. Running a teaching service means the focus is on your students and customers. It means finding out what your students and customers need and finding a way to to match their requirements.

It means to make available your years of training and qualifications, the knowledge and experience you’ve gained working with students — your expertise. Students with less knowledge than you won’t recognise how little or how big the gap in their knowledge is. They know you can teach them. You have value they need. Don’t let intimidation or the quest for perfection because you don’t feel ready.

Revaluing teaching values

In peer-to-peer teaching, the older schoolchild would not feel not ready. He accepts his job as a job to be done. He doesn’t realise he’s missing the years of training and experience freelance teachers have gone through. The older and wiser teacher realises the benefits from teaching — you learn better and learn more of your subject whilst teaching. The old military expression ‘No battle plan ever survives first contact’ reflects this philosophy in a broad way. Contact [teaching] is the only way to gain the all-important clues on what you do and how to do it. Mistakes are integral to learning as long as they’re used to learn from rather than cause shock and dismay. Your students and customers may praise you for doing a great job in teaching, but you’ll always recognise you’re still learning and making mistakes as you learn.


Just don’t let the inward look turn into a stare and knock your teaching business into the sidelines and off-course. The important focus is your student or customer. Trust his opinion when they hire you. You have what they want and they believe they’ll become good value for their time, money and efforts. Take his feedback seriously should he ask for change(s) or compliments your work, and carry on with your teaching and learning as best you can. Doing anything else leads you onto the slippery path that de-motivates your enthusiasm and self-confidence. It’ll seriously reflect on how you run your teaching service and ultimately, the life-span of your business.

  • Trust opinion of your students and customers who have hired you
  • Take feedback seriously
  • Carry on with your work — and learning

Can You Do Me A Favour?

What do you think about this topic? Have you ever felt you’re a fraud and people are paying you good money for a not-so-perfect-lesson?

Leave a comment in the Add Your Comment box below. 🙂

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