When I chatted with Jocelynn Hubbard about becoming an educational consultant I told her she deserves her own show. She is a phenomenal human, a phenomenal student, she has so much advice and so much wisdom for any teacher out there. For anyone looking to start their business in education consulting or anything that deals with getting your experience and education out into the world in a different view, she’s your girl.
She is the CEO and founder of Custom Teaching Solutions and the host of the Culture Centered Classroom Podcast. She is passionate about her purpose in this world helping teachers spark joy in the learning experience by using culturally relevant pedagogy to affirm welcome and celebrate all of their students through the learning experience.
She was a classroom teacher and taught seventh and eighth-grade language arts and social studies for a number of years. When she became a stay-at-home mom she gained some really cool insight into the parent perspective on education. How parents were feeling supported or not as supported with the policies procedures and the ways that schools were engaging them.
Then she started working for scholastic as a literacy consultant and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and that gave her an additional lens through which she could view her skills and ability as a teacher. As Jocelynn’s business has grown she has added remote work to her day as well. She does believe that the Pandemic allowed people in a variety of industries to really stretch and grow and think about the possibilities. Specifically as far as the way that we were engaging with each other personally and professionally. Before the Pandemic she was delivering professional development and coaching in person exclusively. That's the way she had done it when she worked for Scholastic so she just assumed that's the only way it could be done.
And of course platforms like Zoom have been out there for a while but people weren't really using those the way that they are now. So definitely having to have to shift and change and still be a business owner and do it successfully she had to hop on the Zoom train. She had to totally revamp her offerings and think about how to deliver workshops and coach virtually. So all of her offerings now have both in-person and a live virtual or an on-demand component.
Jocelynn found me on YouTube like so many people with those first early videos and she was just attracted to the energy. She reminisces about the transparency and honesty of the journey. What was working and what wasn’t, and all the secrets in between.
She signed up for the CEO Teacher® Masterclass I was hosting at the time. And decided to invest in herself and her business. She says it was definitely scary because even though she had started her business in 2015 it wasn't really growing or thriving. She didn't have the money from the business side to really invest but her husband said if this is something that you want to do and if you feel like this is the coach for you then we will invest personally.
And she made that money back easily within the first two months that she was part of the programs. At that time she really was focused more on TPT just because getting into the consulting game came with significant challenges and a learning curve. At that time there weren't as many business coaches really out there showing the ropes.
But then the very first thing she did (after joining the programs) was watch the mind mapping lessons. That was completely revolutionary for her. She had never done any mind mapping and that allowed her to really see the things that she was passionate about in education. It allowed her to be reflective which was so necessary. She found her focus is culturally relevant pedagogy and culturally sustaining pedagogy. Allowing students to be seen. There were a lot of people that knew it was great and a need but didn’t have the time or funding for it so she was hitting a lot of roadblocks.
Educational consulting is it's actually a broad umbrella. Many educational consultants have decided that they want to work exclusively with parents as advocates. Maybe it’s with parents who have children with special needs and you go into schools with them and sit with them during IEP meetings. Then when the school is talking about 504s and IEPs an education consultant is an advocate for parents, helping them understand the content. Some educational consultants specifically help students to get into college or pursue a specific career path. Jocelynn is an educational consultant who works with schools and districts to design and facilitate professional development workshops and a peer coaching model. Her focus really is working in-house with the teachers and with school leadership.
There are others who have designed whole curriculums and schools will bring them in to teach them how to use that curriculum. Being an educational consultant is a broad kind of umbrella phrase but there are several very specific ways that you can consult.
Getting clarity is so important. Jocelynn says one of the big mistakes that she made at the very beginning of her journey was doing whatever anybody needed in their school. They asked her to teach vocabulary, and classroom management, and shore up their social studies content. But it's about the one specific thing that you know how to do and the transformation that you are able to help teachers or leaders create. So take some time to get clear on your area of expertise.
Jocelynn’s mom told her you can do this on your own you know that right? You don't have to stay working for a particular company. You don't need anyone's approval or validation. You have everything you need to get out here and work with schools on your own.
Getting clarity understanding who you are and who you serve, then deciding what you even want to call your business is step number 1. Jocelynn struggled with that in the beginning. Her TPT store used to be Hubbard's Teaching Cupboard. Because her last name is Hubbard. But then she wondered if schools and principals were really going to take her seriously. So she changed it to Custom Teaching Solutions. Deciding who you are, and who you serve, and getting your LLC are the first steps to having a grown-up business. Jocelynn says to go back and listen to the episode with Brittany Ratelle for more info on how to get your LLC started.
And get your contracts in order. She didn’t have contracts at the beginning of her business either. And you need to protect yourself and it's scary to say I have to send this contract to people. But it's going to be even scarier if you look up a year from now and they have taken your intellectual property and they are running off with it. Or they're calling it their own or if they are using your resources really without paying you for this again? Basically, you don’t want people able to access it year after year after year without also compensating you because you worked very hard to create these resources.
It's not just about the ninety minutes that you might be sitting in front of the teachers. It's about the hours that you spend creating and thinking through the flow and sitting with other consultants and masterminds. Asking does this make sense right so you really want to protect yourself. So step out on faith and then think about the legal portion as far as contracts. Make sure you have a business bank account you need to make sure that your business and your personal assets are separate.
And don’t worry, if you do name your business something that's off the wall it's not the end of the world you can come back and fix that later. Just get started now.
Getting paid as a consultant can be an interesting journey. When Jocelynn first started there weren't people to talk to about this topic. And consultants are very tight-lipped and closed-mouthed about how much they charge and for how long.
You can always find an assistant principal or a principal or if you don't have someone that you know really well to talk to about the money stuff. Ask how much schools have to pay for educational consultants. Find out what others are charging and how schools are budgeting.
While it might be an incremental journey to charging your worth, there is expertise and art to leading professional development and coaching and that is something that has to be developed over time just like as a classroom teacher. Understanding what a professional development session looks like, what a coaching session looks like, and all of the work that it's actually going to take to do to create that thing. All those components impact how much you can charge. As well as charging for a live virtual session where you can be sitting at your desk at home versus flying to Minneapolis or North Carolina. You also have to think about the cost to hop on a plane and get a hotel for a couple of days and a rental car or an Uber and then also to eat all of those things have to be factored into what you are charging.
One of the scary questions to ask those you are working with is what is the budget for this project? You have to ask. Be comfortable asking because sometimes they’ll really want to work with you but their budget will not support the cost. That's going to also give you the confidence to charge not necessarily what you are worth but what your content is worth because we might not be able to charge what we are actually worth in the beginning.
We have already mentioned how mind mapping was a huge piece of Jocelynn’s puzzle. Specifically getting clear on her path. The other thing that was really helpful was the whole side of the aesthetics of her business. The branding and logo and all the things that they're not actually going to make you any money per se. But they do help to build up your confidence and brand.
She reminisced about the first time (after her rebrand) when she handed the training guide to all of the teachers and heard some of them whispering. Ooooo this is nice, I love a really pretty training guide. It made her feel good about herself and the direction of her business. She was sharing qualities as she was presenting to these teachers.
Another piece that helped her build a true business was the website and blogging challenge inside the CEO Teacher® Programs. The lessons literally walk you step by step through how to set up your website correctly and get content into the hands of your perfect clientele. This is why you need to find yourself a coach. Because you may not even know the right questions to ask. But the CEO Teacher® Programs have it all laid out for you.
And then of course search engine optimization (SEO) also known as our secret sauce. Jocelynn has had people find her and sign up for discovery calls because they typed in a specific term and her name popped up. And yes there is a lot out there for free that you can access and piece together. And we share a lot on the podcast but there is nothing like investing in yourself and your business so that you don't have to take all of the time and honestly all the energy to keep it straight.
The weekly coaching calls (inside the CEO Teacher® Programs) gave Jocelynn the inspiration and the confidence to help to shift her business online. It's a really scary thing to talk about your business. But if you don't talk about it how is anyone going to know what you have to offer? Hopping on the coaching calls and participating in the Facebook group you have to be very clear about who you are and who you serve and what you're trying to do. Jocelynn became very comfortable saying, “I’m Jocelynn Hubbard, and I'm the CEO and founder of Custom Teaching Solutions.” It was a game changer to get comfortable sharing her elevator pitch and lots of little pieces all came together.
Jocelynn’s favorite thing about her business is where the magic happens. Sitting and talking with teachers and hearing their hearts and knowing that she is helping them on this journey. Jocelynn has the perfect job for her personality and energy. I am so happy that teachers are learning about cultural responsiveness from such an amazing human. For anyone that would love to connect with Jocelynn and maybe bring her to their school or just see what education consulting is all about you can find her on Instagram @iteachcustom. You can also find her by going to the website customteachingsolutions.com or catch her on the Culture-Centered Classroom podcast where she shows up every Wednesday. Sharing tips and strategies and fun insights into how to leverage the power of culturally relevant pedagogy in your classroom.
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