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How Teachers Translate Their Skills Into Training Roles

Thursday, November 12, 2020
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Teachers today are under an extreme amount of pressure and must make difficult decisions regarding their careers. As a result, thousands of teachers across the country are resigning, retiring, or taking a leave of absence, the Associated Press reported. Hundreds of teachers in Florida have left midway through the first semester, reports ABC news. In Arizona, more than 750 teachers have resigned or retired since the beginning of the school year. Arkansas, California, and Indiana are reporting a spike in teacher vacancies as schools navigate classroom reopenings during the pandemic. Many teachers leaving the K–12 environment still want to teach and use their education skills but are unsure of what those roles could be and how to translate their skills into corporate language. We aim to help those teachers with both.

Alternative Roles

As discussed in the ATD Press book Teachers to Trainers: Apply Your Passion and Skills to a New Career, teachers can search for numerous corporate roles when looking for alternative jobs in education. Talent development is an industry based around educating adults. Here are the roles explained in the book:

Corporate Trainer—A person who delivers learning material to employees to build their performance capabilities. This work includes any aspect of assessing needs and designing and implementing learning solutions. The facilitation (or delivery) can be done face-to-face, via live virtual instruction, or recorded and played back later. No matter what the delivery channel, the trainer is still responsible for teaching and supporting the transfer of knowledge much in the same way of a classroom teacher.

Instructional Designer—The creator of the content or curriculum that the facilitator will deliver. Much like a teacher may develop the learning materials, presentations, and ways to teach a child, an instructional designer creates the learning experiences and materials in a manner that results in the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills. A major difference between a corporate instructional designer and a teacher is in the methodologies used to design and develop the content, experiences, and other solutions.

E-Learning Professional—An e-learning professional can play numerous roles within the online learning space. E-learning professionals deal with the creation or delivery of learning electronically, including live or prerecorded lecture content, video, quizzes, simulations, games, activities, and other interactive elements as well as the learning management systems.

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Teachers are getting a crash course in e-learning as they teach to their classrooms online via synchronous or asynchronous learning.

Coach—Much the way one coaches a student into being a leader or better team player, a coach in a corporation or an outside consultant uses active listening and powerful questions to help a coachee develop themselves professionally. Usually performed in a one-on-one scenario, coaching is not counseling. Rather than looking backward as to why someone is acting a certain way, a coach helps an adult to develop a different perspective, habits, or path to move toward obtainable goals.

Consultant and Public Speaker—While the audience is certainly a bit different, teachers are developing presentations and public speaking on a daily basis. Many of these same skills apply toward being a public speaker in talent development as well. Strong timing, good delivery, and familiarity with your audience are elements of a great public speaker. Being a consultant means you either have to be a specialist in one area—much the way a high school or middle school teacher does—or being a generalist, much like an elementary school is, and delivering that needed expertise.

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Academia—An educator within a university, college, or other higher education institution who often obtains a PhD and teaches adults in a typical classroom setting (although lately more online than ever). These educators usually specialize in a certain topic area. For many former elementary schoolteachers who move into academia, the most natural progression is to teach new or budding teachers toward obtaining a degree in education. High school teachers may find it more natural to instruct in their target disciplines of math, English literature, drama, or other areas.

Talent Development Manager—A manager or leader in talent development starts with knowing one’s team. Expertise in training, instructional design, and other areas of talent development may be needed, but a passion for developing others and project management is at the core of being a talent development manager.

Moving from the classroom to the field of learning and development or talent development can seem scary but it doesn’t have to be. Finding out the roles which you can target is just the first step toward finding your next job in the education space. The best roles are the ones that fit your personality, goals, and interests most closely. To find out more about what roles might be right for you, what skills you may have that transfer over to the education space, and what other teachers wished they had known before they made the leap, join us for the ATD Austin Chapter conference, Leader in Learning, on November 14. We look forward to seeing you there!

About the Author

Lisa Spinelli is the Senior Content Manager for the Career Development, Talent Management and Finance communities as well as the ATD Job Bank administrator and host of the The Accidental Trainer podcast. She is also the creator and manager of the ATD transitioning military service member workshops, Troops to Trainers, and editor of the ATD Press book Teachers to Trainers.

Prior to joining ATD, Lisa worked as a content strategist, editor, and journalist for over 14 years. Some of her freelance work was previously published with Fast Company magazine, Huffington Post, Mental Floss, Northern Virginia Magazine, Houston Chronicle, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Associated Press, to name a few. She grew up in Rome, Italy, and is an alumna of the University of Virginia and the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. She currently resides in Northern Virginia with her three little divas and USAF veteran husband. Follow her on Twitter @atdcareerdev.

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