Interview with Successful Work at Home Mom, Christine Ducz
This interview is the second in my Work at Home Mom series. If you missed the first interview, find it here.
These days, it’s more challenging than ever to be a school teacher. With the pandemic, the state of education has been completely upended, and each district seems to be left to its own devices when it comes to schooling.
This puts a lot of pressure on teachers who rely on stability for both their jobs and their families. Many moms who are classroom teachers are trying to figure out exactly how they’re going to juggle everything – especially when their kids might be home, but they’re expected to teach all week in a school building.
That’s exactly why I was excited to have the opportunity to interview Christine Ducz. Christine is a certified teacher who retired from her full-time classroom job after her daughter was born. Instead of giving up teaching altogether, she shifted her career to make it work within her home life. She transitioned her skills to a work from home position so that she could continue working without giving up time with her daughter.
If you’re a mom who has a background in education but you want to leave the classroom behind so that you can stay home with your kids, there are legitimate work from home jobs for teachers. Christine’s story proves that it can be done.
I always love it when people find ways to transition the skills they’ve learned into a work at home job that makes the most sense for their family. Read on to learn exactly how Christine did this, and what she does to balance everything as a work at home mom.
Work at Home Advice from an Online Educator
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and you got started as an online educator?
I’m 32 years old with an almost four-year-old daughter, Molly. I’m a certified Teacher of English (K-12) and Reading Specialist (P-12). I’ve worked for ten years as an English/Language Arts teacher with students in grades 6-12.
I had resigned from my full-time teaching job to be home with my then three-month-old daughter. I wanted to find a job I could do from home while also being a stay at home mom.
I became an online New Jersey English teacher with an edtech company called Edmentum, as an instructor with EdOptions Academy, in August 2017, and in September of 2019 I started my own online tutoring business, Little Reading Coach.
What does an online educator do?
I provide instruction to students through online courses and one-on-one instruction.
As a virtual teacher with EdOptions Academy, I work with students in grades 6-12 as an English teacher. I grade assignments, provide accommodations, check-in on students, and attend IEP meetings just like a brick and mortar teacher.
As an online tutor, I work one-on-one in reading, writing, or home-based learning for students in grades 6-12. I also maintain a literacy blog for parents and teachers, create products for Teachers Pay Teachers, and am currently working on creating online courses of my own.
How long does it take to become an online educator? Is there a big learning curve?
It honestly took me months to find the job with EdOptions Academy. I had already been a teacher for five years, so I had the experience required. I was literally job-searching for hours every day, and when I saw the job post I applied instantly.
It took me about a year-ish to get the hang of teaching in the virtual world. I went from having 125 students at the most in a brick and mortar school to having 250 in an online setting.
There needs to be A LOT of communication with parents and students with online learning, and it is quite a bit to keep up with on top of grading and teaching live lessons.
As a business owner, my biggest learning curve is trying to keep up with all the little components of owning a business. I had to learn to create my own website, learn how to use Pinterest effectively, navigate the world of social media, organize my payment system, and find clients.
Did you take any special courses or classes or receive any special training for this job?
I had already graduated with a B.A. in English and a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction/Reading and received my Teacher of English and Reading Specialist certifications before I left the brick and mortar classroom and jumped into the virtual teaching environment.
I didn’t need any special training or courses, but I’m constantly taking advantage of professional development opportunities and online courses to help me improve.
As an online tutor, having my Reading Specialist endorsement has made a big difference. I am able to support students in the special education population, especially those with dysgraphia and dyslexia.
I also took a course from Tutor Success Academy about starting my own tutoring business, which made a HUGE difference for Little Reading Coach.
How do you find work or clients?
When it comes to finding tutoring clients, Facebook is really my go-to place. I’m part of quite a few mom and education groups where I interact with parents. If a parent asks for a tutor recommendation, I will share my information (making sure to follow the group rules). I have also gotten clients from word of mouth.
How do you find time to work as a work at home mom?
When I first started working from home my workload was nowhere near where it is now. I was able to do my work while Molly slept or when a family member would watch her.
When she was about a year old, and my workload increased, I started dropping her off at an in-home daycare in my town a few days a week. When she hit 18 months, she was enrolled in a full-time day-care program and continues to attend full-time preschool today.
What does your typical work week look like?
I typically start working at 9 am. Between 9 am- 2 pm I grade assignments, call/text students, create products, attend meetings, etc. From 2 pm-6 pm I work with my tutoring clients.
How much do you make per month and/or what is the earning potential for this job?
The potential for this job is truly up to the individual.
As a contractor with EdOptions Academy my income changes based on the number of students I have. With tutoring, I can handle 12 sessions a week which is about $900.
It all depends on how many clients I’m working with, especially with what time of year it is. Typically, my summers have a lighter workload.
How much does it cost to get started? Are there any long-term costs associated with this job?
It cost me about $1,000 to start up my online tutoring business. Between website, domain names, marketing, and miscellaneous fees it adds up quickly.
My long-term costs are quite low compared to others because my business is remote based. I do pay membership fees to networking groups, social media tools, PayPal, TutorBird, etc., and I also need teaching supplies.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be an online educator?
While it is truly amazing to have freedom in the education world to do what I want with my students, and create quality products and curricula, be prepared for working all the time.
I spend a lot of time on my phone on Pinterest, interacting on social media and checking blog numbers. My daughter will tell me to put the phone down and that’s sometimes hard to do because I want to spend time with her, but I also want to be able to provide for her.
Anything else to add?
Being a teacherpreneur takes time. Some days are really frustrating because growth isn’t happening as quickly, but then other days are fantastic when you sign a new client or sell a product.
Interested in finding out about more work from home jobs? Check out these articles: