Private-practice teachers come in all shapes and sizes. Some provide instruction to one student at a time, others teach entire classrooms. Some of these educators run their own business, taking on the dual responsibilities of teacher and business manager. Others want to focus strictly on teaching by working for an established education company--an option that poses less risk and fewer entrepreneurial headaches.

The common thread linking these educators is their enthusiasm for teaching, learning, and helping children. What sets them apart from other teachers is their willingness to assume risk, their desire for independence, and their ability to meet the demands of the education marketplace. Private-practice teaching is an option that lets teachers exercise their entrepreneurial talents (see Case Study #2).

In 1990, the American Association of Educators in Private Practice (AAEPP) was founded by a small group of enterprising educators in Wisconsin to network and support other like-minded teachers. The Association now has over 250 members and has become the recognized authority on private practice. Chris Yelich, one of the founders of AAEPP and the president of Science Capsules, a private-practice science-education company, hopes to change the way teachers think about their careers.

"Why is the idea of private practice so foreign in the field of education? If you mention private practice to college students preparing for any other profession, you will find that many are interested in going into business for themselves.... But mention this concept to students in a school of education, and they will look at you with a blank stare."5