Dawn is an author, former educator, and sustainability nut living in rural Rhode Island. She is a mom has two dogs, eleven chickens, and one goal: to grow her own food and get (mostly) off the grid—while still having high-speed internet.
She’s worked in insurance, restaurants, retail, taught martial arts, worked at a famous music library, run the art department at day camp, and supersized fries. Dawn failed out of music school, fired herself from her own company to teach, then ended up working for a Silicon Valley startup by accident, asking, “Startup what?”
Dawn has written for or been featured in EdTech Digest, Edutopia, EdSurge, US News and World Report Money, EdTech Review India, ConversationEd, TeachThought, NPR, Edweek, Quartz, and several other places, both in and out of education.
Dawn also wrote books:
- A Broke Teacher’s Guide to Success: How to Build Your Dreams on Teacher Pay
- Don’t Sniff the Glue: A Teacher’s Misadventures in Education Reform
Problem with Teacher’s Pay
There is a mindset issue because teacher’s in well off regions struggle just as much in those of low paying regions. Teachers would go in and they would spend a great percentage of their, their paycheck on their job. And. You could say that police officers do this, or nurses do this, or there are other service careers where people are big givers and they’ll help out the community.
But in general, you work because you need to get a paycheck and then you take that paycheck and you save and you pay your bills or you, you set some goals and achieve them. Right. And so in teaching you. You don’t, you juggle your grocery bill or cut out you need, because you just spent that money on the back to school sales and this is it’s all pervasive.
And so when I started to realize that this was a trend at a mindset and it’s not sustainable. it was. To me, I never would have realized that I would have continued doing this for a million year career. but we had business downturns and at one point my husband lost a salary with a business.
But teaching, I was still spending, I remember getting a stipend for a decent amount of money, but I spent twice as much buying the kids’ junk food and snacks and helping them out and buying pencils.
So, it’s not the solution, and when I started realizing, well, you can’t do that. I put a no spend policy in my classroom. and when you do that as a teacher, two things happen, one, you stop spending. So that’s a positive, a good thing, but two, you immediately become greedy because no teacher doesn’t spend on their classroom.
I’ve had this argument in public spheres because I write it I’m out there and I speak and people will say things, well, if you aren’t willing to give a kid a pencil, you shouldn’t be teaching. And I will say something back , well, geez, I’m wondering if you’ve considered that I’ve had anywhere from 180 students a year to 256 at a high, every one of whom seems to need a pencil.
Where do Teachers Get the Mindset that They Need to Subsidize their Class?
I think it’s the type of people who become teachers quite often. I mean, if you look at people who become teachers, no one goes into teaching because it’s a high paid career career with a lot of us.
How to Shift Professional Gears
Step 1: Assess where you are at by identifying your skill sets and what you gravitate towards. If you aren’t sure what your skill sets are, ask friends, family workers, anyone that knows you.
Step 2: Figure out where you want to go next, visualize it
Step 3: Ask yourself what that person would do to get there
Step 4: Monetize it. Think about the value are providing and how much money it will save that person or increase their revenue. Think about if you were to do this for somebody else, how much would other people charge and do a little bit of research or speak with others
One Liners to Help You Monetize Your Skill Sets
- Sure, I’ll do that for you, here are my rates
- I’m really interested in that. That sounds great. If you want to send me a quick email with some bullets, I’ll be able to go over my rates and put something together for you.
- This is what my rates usually are (or this is how much I typically charge) but let me check my schedule and see what my booking availability is
- Great, here’s my friends and family rate for doing something like this
Sometimes you have to cut a client loose or say: This is an unproductive use of my time, or we’re not on the same page, or I can finish this up for you, but it’s going to take me an extra eight hours which will cost $X. Is that okay with you?
1. What is one fun fact about you that not that many people know?
I applied for MTV Real World during the early seasons
2. Who inspires you the most and why?
There are so many people out there doing amazing things. I know that when I was teaching, I would have told you my students, which sounds like a canned answer, but I’ve got kids out there building their companies and doing their thing.
I am most grateful to my friend for starting me on this journey to my friend Kamal Ravikant. That’s a space of gratitude, but inspiring wise, I think everybody that I look at, I want to look at what’s the quality in them.
That’s that makes them so great that I want to take that one kernel from them. I just think that so many people have that quality that if you stop and look and learn from everybody, that you can be equally inspired by people. So every conversation I feel inspiration, walking away from normal people like me.
3. What books are you reading now or have read and loved that you’d recommend?
I’m always reading something to help or make me a little bit better. I read a lot of food books too and food history books. I just love them. I’ve got some homesteading books on my stuff. I could totally go off all day with different categories of books that I’ve loved.
4. What is one actionable tip or piece of advice that you can tell our mom’s out there to the help them on their financial independence journey?
I would say is carve out that time for you, make it a date with yourself, even a commitment.Take action everyday, even small action. If you want to be a writer, then there’s nothing stopping you from being a writer. You need to write. For me, I got up at four in the morning. I wrote from four to six, I’d go to school. I teach all day. Then I’d come back and I’d work. my jobs that I was working at the time. So, when people would say, I wish I could do it what you do. I say you can, do whatever you want to do, if you want a new career, if you want to just a freelance on the side, if you want to improve in some skill. Then you need to do it and you, need to do it every day because in three, four, five, six months, you’ll be able to look back and feel a totally different person.
That’s my experience. I’ve learned my last few endeavors and careers by having smart friends; following smart friends; cutting out the, things that weren’t productive, things that weren’t helpful, people that weren’t helpful; and just putting myself in a circle. The people who really wanted to do great things.
In the beginning, I didn’t know that was a circle I was in. I just said, wow, this is really cool. Sure. I’ll help you. I’ll do this. I’ll do that, but that turns out to be the secret. The secret is if you want to learn something, go learn it and then try it. Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn’t.
I mean, I’ve got a whole bunch of ugly websites out there and I keep trying to make them prettier and, you just keep doing it and then you say, well, wait a minute. If I want to do this for real, how do I do that? What would the next step be?
Well, if I want this to be my job, how would I get somebody to pay me for this? Or how would I make a dollar on that website? Or how would I, consult and not have it be a favor? Every time you do something, you take that one step to get to the next thing, but you take a step every single day.
Connect with Dawn
I will Teach You To be Rich by Ramit Sethi
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