Over the past several weeks, I’ve had virtual coffee with about a dozen individuals who have been looking to make the transition from a career in the K-12 classroom to the world of adult learning and professional development.
At my core, I’m conflicted. Really good teachers can be hard for school districts to find, and being the parent of two K-12 school-aged children, I want my kids to have the best teachers. On the other hand, it’s not my choice. If teachers have their reasons for wanting to leave the classroom and find other opportunities where there strong skillset in instructional design can be transferred fairly easily into a new career, then the least I can do is offer my appreciation in the form of a few resources that may be handy in this transition.
At Endurance Learning, we have two very high performing former teachers on staff, and we work with several others who have transitioned to the world of freelance elearning developers. So I’ve seen firsthand how a teacher’s skillset is readily transferable into the world of adult learning and professional development.
That said, there is also a learning curve that will naturally accompany a shift in audience (from classroom students to adult learners) and organizational culture (from schools to for-profit or non-profit businesses).
Lisa Spinelli, who now works at the Association for Talent Development (ATD), published a book toward the end of 2020 entitled Teachers to Trainers: Apply Your Passion and Skills to a New Career. This would be the perfect place to begin exploring if the leap from school classroom to corporate learning might be the right move for you. The book includes skills assessments, worksheets, write-ups of certification and certificate programs and recommended reading.
If you prefer to listen to Lisa share some of the trends and lessons learned as she was writing her book, you can also listen to a 13-minute podcast I had the opportunity to record with her when her book first hit the shelves.
I also had the opportunity to speak with Shermaine Perry-Knights, a former 7th grade social studies teacher who now serves as a master trainer with the Fulton County Government and who is also very active with her local ATD chapter in Atlanta. In our 13-minute podcast, she talks about her journey going from the classroom to the training room.
A Handful of LinkedIn Connections
While books and podcasts can be helpful resources to assist you in getting a feel for what to expect in the transition from teacher to trainer, building a network of people who can answer your questions, share stories and even help get your foot in the door at an organization is crucial. After all, your instructional design and facilitation skills may be extremely transferable, but there is way too much truth to the adage: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Here are a few people you may want to connect with on LinkedIn and even propose to have virtual coffee if they have the time:
- Lisa Spinelli. I mentioned Lisa and her book above, so she’s included here for obvious reasons.
- Shermaine Perry-Knights. Also mentioned above, also on this list for obvious reasons.
- Lauren Wescott. Lauren now serves as a manager of learning and development with Endurance Learning and came into her role without any prior experience developing or leading corporate elearning initiatives. She’s now a rockstar and might have some interesting nuggets to share about her journey if you connect with her.
- Lindsay Garcia. Lindsay is another manager of learning and development with Endurance Learning who worked in St. Lucie Public Schools (FL) early in her career before settling into her current role where she combines graphic design with instructional design to generate amazing elearning experiences.
- Alexander Salas. Alex runs LXDLaunch, which offers a variety of courses that can help build your skillset and portfolio when it comes to things such as elearning development, video creation and editing, creating educational resources using augmented reality, and improving your visual design skills. While there are a lot of online courses and academies out there, I specifically recommend reaching out to connect with Alex because I know that he works with a lot of people who are teachers and are looking to transition into the world of corporate learning and development. In fact, Lindsay (mentioned above) and several other people we work with as freelance instructional designers have come from the LXDLaunch programming.
There you have it – one book, two podcasts and five LinkedIn connections if you’re looking for some help making the transition from teacher to trainer. Of course, you can always reach out and connect with me as well – I’d be happy to share my own journey and offer any insights that come to mind. Connect with me on LinkedIn!