The Top 5 Things I’ve Learned Working from Home

It’s summer, and it’s time for a change of pace. Instead of sharing my lesson ideas as usual, I want to take you behind the scenes (aka my home office). As some of you know, I quit teaching about three years ago in order to devote 100% of my time to sharing lesson ideas with all of you and creating education resources for my store the Yellow Brick Road.

Having lived this life for three years now, teaching is still the hardest job I ever had. Hence why I have everlasting respect and gratitude for every teacher I meet.

That being said, I’ve learned so much about my career in the past few years. I’ve grown as a content creator and resource producer (say that five times fast). And while I don’t expect all that I’ve learned to apply to your life as a music teacher, there are areas of commonality. For example…

1. If you don’t value your time, neither will anyone else.

The first year I became a work-from-home gal, I fielded several calls from people who just wanted to chat in the middle of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly okay with dropping everything for a friend who’s just experienced a break-up or a family member who is in need of serious help.

However, I’m not okay being bombarded with someone’s shopping list and a detailed description of how they plan their meals. Oh, and by the way, did I know that so-and-so said such-and-such to so-and-so? 

Eventually, I learned to set boundaries.

If I received a call that had gone beyond a reasonable amount of time, and contained no vital information, I politely explained that I needed to “get back to work”. Respect is a two-way street. If others don’t respect your time, then you are justified in setting boundaries and teaching them how to respect it.

2. Some people will never accept that you have a “real job”.

Whether it stems from ignorance or jealousy, some people just won’t get what you do. It’s not much different from being a music teacher in a sea of general education teachers. Some teachers value what you do wholeheartedly (bless them), while others think you’ve been pulled off the street to give them prep time.
Sure, you can spend time patiently educating others on why your job is a real thing that requires hard work. I’ve done this in the past to mixed results. Still, some people won’t accept your career no matter how hard you work at it. And that’s okay.

It’s their problem, not yours.This issue used to be my pet peeve. Nowadays, it’s much easier to shrug off the naysayers. I’m passionate about the work that I do, and I’m proud that my resources are helping music teachers and students all over the world. There’s no doubt in my mind that making a positive difference in the lives of teachers and children is my life’s work.

3. Comparison is the Thief of Joy. Seriously. Stop it!

We’re constantly bombarded with the amazing work of other professionals. We see it on Pinterest, on blogs, in teaching magazines, and at conferences. The talent of music teachers and small business owners is on display all the time. 

It’s no wonder that we start to feel as though we don’t measure up.Instead, ask yourself what your students would think.


  • Will your students care that you presented at a national conference or will they pay more attention to how you treat them with compassion?
  • Will your students remember if you finished all your curricular goals this year or will they remember how much fun they had playing music games in your class?

We can spend our time comparing ourselves to others or we can spend our time focused on the positive difference we’re making in the lives of students.


4. Thinking IS doing.

Everybody creates. Whether that includes writing new lesson plans or developing a new resource. It’s all creation. And the true work of creation is thinking.
The problem is that thinking doesn’t always feel productive.
I often think I’m not being productive if I’m formulating an idea in my mind or working out the finer details of a finished product. When in reality, the physical aspect of my work is by far the easiest. The thought process is where all the real magic happens. It’s because of this that I always have to remind myself:
Thinking IS doing!

5. Asking for Help is NOT a sign of weakness.

Whether you’re running a music class or running a small business, the responsibilities are the same. We are creators, editors, salespeople, social media managers, advertisers, accountants, and more. While you’re constantly advocating for music education, I’m creating a resource to help you do that. While you’re trying to scrap together a budget for new instruments, I’m calculating my quarterly tax payments. We have so many responsibilities, and there’s only 24 hours in a day. Therefore…
Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness!
I’m repeating that statement for me as much as for you. In my first few years of teaching, I felt like I was on an island by myself. I had awesome colleagues in other subjects or fields, but nobody who taught elementary music. It was isolating. So, when I had a bad day or just wanted to chat with someone about elementary music methods, I didn’t know where to turn.
Fears and questions multiply in isolation.
Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. I joined Facebook groups for music teachers. I read music education blogs and reached out to the authors. I emailed colleagues. I started chatting with like-minded small business owners. I even wrote a blog post about how to avoid isolation. Slowly but surely, I found a support system. And much to my surprise, I was able to help them as much as they helped me.

“Refusing to ask for help when you need it is refusing someone the chance to be helpful.”

~Ric Ocasek

So now I have a question for you. What’s your biggest struggle as a teacher and/or content creator? Which number on my list resonated with you the most? Leave your answers in the comments section. I’d love to hear your thoughts!


5 Responses

  1. Jennifer, I so loved reading this post! I love hearing you speak from your heart and getting a glimpse into your thoughtful reflections. I think #2 and #3 stuck out to me the most. Just the other day as I was coming home from the pool with my daughters, I said hi to one of my neighbors and asked how they were doing, and they replied "Oh you know, still working every day even though it's summer!". It made me so punchy. I'm not even sure if the comment was supposed to be passive aggressive but I sure took it that way! Thanks again for sharing 🙂

    1. Thanks Elizabeth 🙂 I think I would've taken your neighbor's words that way too. How maddening! It makes me want to send a thank you card to all those people who just get it.

  2. Thanks for this post. "So, what are you going to do with your day?" are questions I frequently get (not from my family though). I do the same thing I do every day, sit at my desk and work until it's time for bed.

    1. Oh my gosh Jane, me too!!! I'm always so taken aback when somebody asks me that. Hey Jennifer, what will you be doing tomorrow (on a workday)? Umm….I'll be working. I never know exactly how to respond.