Self-enrichment teachers teach subjects that people learn for self-improvement
or fun. A few examples are drama, music, photography, cooking and physical
Self-enrichment teachers teach people of all ages. Their student could
be a six-year-old learning to play the piano or a senior citizen learning
about wine tasting.
Often, self-enrichment teachers are self-employed or employed just part
time. This means their income often comes from a variety of sources.
"We teach all over the place," says Steve Neumann. He's an enrichment teacher
in California who focuses on arts education. "We basically travel with a bag
of tricks. Today alone I'm going to be at three different schools. It's nice,
the flexibility and stuff, but there's a little bit of uncertainty to it as
To get students, enrichment teachers need to network and build a good reputation.
A lot of their work comes from word of mouth. This is especially true for
those who are self-employed, such as Neumann, an actor and director with a
degree in theater. He runs a theater company for youth and also teaches after-school
enrichment classes in theater.
"One thing I enjoy the most is the ability to work with kids at all different
levels and all different ages," says Neumann. "I mean, I work with preschool
kids all the way through seniors in high school, in different capacities.
So you get wide variety, which is very nice."
Neumann says he especially enjoys seeing kids achieve something for the
first time, such as memorizing their lines or performing a song. "Just watching
it click and listening to their feedback and watching their discoveries is
exceptionally rewarding," he says.
Alana Loewe Weiss is an enrichment teacher and private voice coach. She
has taught musical theater enrichment classes at elementary schools and currently
teaches music at a high school.
"My bread and butter is that I'm a private voice teacher, but I work with
two high school a cappella groups and I often work with mainstage musicals,"
"I think being involved in performing arts is so valuable," says Weiss,
who is also a professional singer. "I gained so much confidence from being
Weiss says enrichment courses such as those in singing and theater give
students many lasting benefits.
"I think any time a student sees themselves improve in something, especially
something that they love, something that they're passionate about, their confidence
level goes through the roof," says Weiss. "I think that's something that's
Students also gain confidence from physical education, notes Janean Greer.
She's an enrichment teacher at a private school in Texas. She is employed
full time at the school as a teacher of physical education and assistant to
the athletic director.
The confidence gained from enrichment subjects can be especially valuable
for those who don't do well at other subjects.
"[If they] don't do well in the classroom... they can find success in this
instead of history or math," says Greer.
"And for a lot of them it's a release... they can get their energy out
and refresh their mind. It just kind of breaks up the day for them. Getting
physically fit helps their mind be more fit and to receive more information
in the afternoon."
It's not just fun for the students. Greer very much enjoys what she does.
"I love it," says Greer. "It's just fun to get out there and play with
the kids. I love when it clicks for them and they see that success and really
start enjoying it.
"One of our goals is to get them exercising, but they don't know they're
exercising," Greer says.
"They're more thinking about what the objective is (of a particular game
or activity). And you get to have a different relationship than if you're
a classroom teacher. It's more relaxed, and you can joke around with them.
I enjoy building those relationships with the students."
Weiss says that being a self-employed enrichment teacher is a good fit
for many creative types such as her.
"People who are creative, who would be inclined to do something like what
I do, don't necessarily want to work at a nine-to-five job," says Weiss.
"This career allows me to do something different each day. Every week
for me is unique because, throughout it, I teach 30 private students with
differing personalities, ages and levels of talent and also spend time at
a high school working with two 15-member singing groups, which changes the
workday dynamic completely."
It's that variety and the opportunity to teach a subject they love that
keeps enrichment teachers happy.
"Everything my job consists of and every source of income I have allows
me to stretch myself creatively every day," says Weiss. "It is pretty common
in this field for people to have different [jobs and clients] -- a little
bit here, a little bit there.
"After time, if you're lucky enough to have success in this field, you
can start to hone in on where you enjoy your work the most," Weiss adds.
The training and education for enrichment teachers varies widely. Many
just have training in the particular subject they're teaching, especially
if they're self-employed. Those working full time in schools need to have
the same qualifications as other teachers. This typically requires four to
five years of university.
"I think that an understanding of whatever the craft is that is being taught
is first and foremost," says Weiss.
"One of the most valuable traits of being a good singing teacher is to
be able to accurately convey the technique. If I wasn't a singer myself and
didn't understand the voice as well as I do, or if I wasn't articulate while
explaining the concepts, it would be very difficult to have that same student
Neumann says relationship building is a key part of succeeding as an enrichment
"One of the main ways is once you get into a school, once you're welcomed
in, is relating to those kids on their level and allowing their parents and
the school faculty to see the relationship that you're building with those
kids," says Neumann. "They begin to see how valuable you are to them -- and
that's building them as a recommendation for when you want to go somewhere
Ed Wasiak is a professor of music education who trains aspiring music teachers.
"I believe that music education is a key part of any well-rounded person's
education," says Wasiak. "I say that because music is one of the most powerful
and unique ways that human beings, universally across time, have always used
to communicate all aspects of what it means to be human."
Wasiak says music is a difficult subject to teach well. "You can't just
read a book or get up to speed by attending a few concerts or whatever. Most
of us have spent a lifetime preparing to do what we do... I started piano
lessons when I was six, and all of that provides the background. So if you
aren't a teacher with quite a bit of musical background, it's really hard
to teach it with any sort of degree of confidence or competence."
Wasiak says enrichment subjects such as music, unfortunately, often don't
get the emphasis they deserve.
"It's a key element to education and unfortunately, especially in North
America, sometimes it's viewed more on the periphery of education," says Wasiak.
"Sometimes it's viewed as 'nice if we've got time and money, but it's not
absolutely necessary,' and so the arts are always at risk."
"Arts education itself is a very growing profession," says Neumann. "The
profession itself is gaining validity. There are now universities that are
offering master's degrees in arts education, so the validity and the value
of this... is definitely on the rise."
Building your knowledge and skill in whatever subject you hope to teach
is essential. But there's something else you can do to prepare for this career.
"One of the great things to do right in high school, or right out of high
school, is find an arts summer camp -- finding an arts summer camp that you
can go and work at and possibly be an assistant to someone else who maybe
has a strong program that's built," says Neumann.
"Learn the ropes a little bit, learn and see if it's something that you
actually like to do. Half of arts education is just being able to work with
kids. The other half is the growing of yourself as an artist."
National Enrichment Teachers Association
Learn about their certification program
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