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 teacher to learning & development 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.
There is a learning curve that comes with the shift from classroom teacher to corporate trainer, but it is happening more and more. The teacher to trainer shift means an obvious change in audience (from classroom students to adult learners) and a sometimes less obvious (by maybe more jolting) change in organizational culture (from schools to for-profit or non-profit businesses).
Book about Going From Teacher to Corporate Trainer
Lisa Spinelli, who now works at the Association for Talent Development (ATD), published a book 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 the episode Preparing Teacher to Train I had the opportunity to record with her when her book first hit the shelves.
Podcast Episodes and Article to Learn from Others
I’ve had the privilege of interviewing several professionals who made the transition from teacher to learning and development professionals. In each of these episodes you’ll hear about their experiences making the transition out of teaching into the corporate training world.
- Lauren Wescott made the transition from K-12 teacher to learning and development manager. She shares her thoughts on the similarities and differences between teaching and training.
- Shermaine Perry-Knights is 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 the Teacher to Training episode, Shermaine talks about her journey going from the classroom to the training room.
- Two of my colleagues, Hannah Radant and Lindsay Garcia, have made the transition from k-12 classroom teacher to elearning developer with striking success. They recently spent some time talking with me about what they found transferable from their teaching roles to elearning developers, and how they’ve been able to overcome challenges, including the lack of confidence in their ability to do this work.
- Listen to an L&D Manager who has hired instructional designers about the types of create a learning & development portfolio examples to include that will make a difference in your job search easier.
- I’ve had two conversations with Asha Aravindakshan who is the best-selling author of Skills: The Common Denominator about her research that focused on how people have successfully used their skills and experience to land the job they truly want to be doing. In the first conversation, we spoke about navigating the pivot to a career in corporate training when you don’t quite feel qualified. And in the second conversation, Asha interviewed a former elementary school teacher, Rae Button, on her journey into the field of learning and development.
LinkedIn Network of Key People to Support Teachers
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.
Foundations Classes in L&D
- The L&D Pro Academy has a Fundamentals of L&D course that is designed to help you build the skills you need to be successful and feel confident in your new role.