Hawaii’s public school teachers work hard in the classroom but that may not be the only place they are working.

It’s 7:45 a.m. on a Saturday, laptops are charged up and large thermoses of strong coffee filled. Thirty-two  teachers from across the islands have assembled on our “day off” for professional development about amplifying teacher voice.

After a long day of learning, we collected our papers and gather by the door, eager to pau hana. One fourth grade teacher dejectedly grumbles, “I can’t tonight, I have to work.”

A lot of teachers have second jobs to supplement their incomes. Csilla Jaray-Benn/Flickr.com

Over pupus and drinks, we lament the absence of our friend and colleague. Curious, I ask the others if they also have jobs in addition to teaching. Seven out of seven do, to supplement their teaching income.  One fellow elementary school teacher says, “We all have a side hustle, don’t you?”

Since that Saturday I’ve asked other Hawaii teachers about their “side hustles.” I discovered they have found a variety of interesting ways to bring in a little extra cash to supplement their bi-monthly paychecks.

Education ‘Side Hustles’

Not straying far from the profession, many teachers I talked to have side jobs within the education field. Some teach professional development on topics ranging from Classroom Management to Tools to help English Language Learners.

Other teachers reported getting paid to grade standards based assessments in their free time. One works for Upward Bound, a program that helps eligible high school students achieve college and career goals.

Tutoring is a popular and convenient way for many teachers to earn some extra money. One very brave colleague teaches Driver’s Education in her off-hours.

Personal-Interest ‘Side Hustles’

I spoke with a teacher who, being a horse enthusiast for most of her life,  gets paid to train horses on weekends.

Another colleague with an interest in law works as a legal assistant on days off.

Several teachers reported working as pilates and yoga instructors in the evenings and on weekends. One admitted she loves her yoga side job so much she teaches yoga classes before school two times a week.

Another teacher works as a make-up artist, and an avid surfer charges tourists for introductory lessons on weekends and school breaks.

Convenient ‘Side Hustles’

Convenience is a major factor in side jobs for teachers. One is a representative for skin care products. It was time-consuming at first but once she earned loyal customers it has been an easy way to make extra money.

Other teachers sell LuLaRoe clothing in the same fashion. DoTerra is another common “side hustle” for busy teachers.

This doesn’t just happen in Hawaii. A recent cover story in the  National Education Association magazine entitled “Moonlighting” states, “Nationwide, many public school teachers and education support professionals work nights and weekends to supplement the income they receive from teaching.”

According to this article, “A 2016 report from the National Center for Education Statistics states that about 16 percent of teachers across the nation work second jobs outside the school system.”

I wonder what percent of teachers in Hawaii have second jobs.

The “side hustles” are a testament to the type of people teachers are. Instead of going home and dwelling on their relatively low income, they continue to contribute to society after a long day’s work in the classroom.

It would be nice if our state could find a way to pay for “side hustles” that directly benefit teachers, students and schools simultaneously.

What if the yoga instructor earned money teaching yoga to families and children at her school? What if the surfer offered water safety lessons to students at his school instead to tourists?

In the meantime, as local families plan trips and book tickets for the upcoming spring break, do not assume that this will necessarily be a break for teachers. For many, spring break will be filled with “side hustles” to bring in a little extra money to help them support their families.

And yes, I do have a “side hustle.” You are so kindly reading it now.

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