02/18/2022 by Carney Sandoe Staff | Landing the Job
Career Changer? Starting Fresh as a Teacher
Are you harboring a desire to teach? Maybe you envy other people who get to spend their days working with kids, and you want to become an influential person in students' lives. Perhaps you want to share your passion for a certain subject with young students and ignite their love of learning. Or maybe you are answering a call to make a difference and contribute to society by giving back to the community in a meaningful way.
If, after several years in a certain career path, you decide to listen to that internal voice urging you to teach, you're probably wondering how to make that transition. We’ve seen it before — established professionals making a career shift toward teaching. Here are our tips.
Distill Your Teaching Experience
You might be panicking, thinking all the time you’ve spent outside the classroom will preclude you from pursuing a teaching career. Odds are, though, you’ve gained some applicable teaching experience already — no matter your career path.
Take a moment to tease out teaching and leadership moments from your work history. Did you organize a training program at your office? Lead a task force? Mentor younger employees and provide instruction for them? All of these experiences are relevant if you want to become a teacher.
To prospective employers, an important aspect of your job history will be a demonstrated interest in working with and teaching kids. It’s not enough to say you want to teach; you must also demonstrate that you’ve executed on that desire in some capacity. Reflect on your volunteer experience: have you been a camp counselor? An SAT tutor? A mentor for underprivileged youth? All of these experiences demonstrate a willingness to teach young people. If you haven’t done any of these things, consider why you haven’t — and volunteer your time as you begin your career transition.
Rearrange Your Resume
For years, you’ve arranged your resume a certain way. You have sections for education, for work experience, for interests — and you likely arrange them in reverse-chronological order, demonstrating positions you’ve held most recently and that have allowed you the highest level of responsibility.
If you’re looking to move into teaching, rearrange a little. Put your relevant teaching experience at the top of your resume: school hiring contacts will want to see what you’ve done that’s precipitated this career shift. Don’t relegate your six years as an after-school tutor to the bottom-most part of your resume, just because it was a part-time, volunteer position. Put it up front, where school hiring contacts can see and react to it.
If you haven’t been in the education industry before, you might feel a bit behind the eight-ball when you compare yourself with other teachers vying for the same positions. Spend some time brushing up on industry jargon: use social media and the Internet to your advantage, and create your own Personal Learning Network. If you can, enroll in a class (online or in-person), whether in a topic within your desired subject area or in education more generally. Groom yourself to be as attractive to administrators as possible.
Before you make the commitment to move into teaching from another profession, make sure it’s a change you really want to make. Do you really know what a teaching career will be like, or are you intrigued by the prospect of days that end at 3:00 PM and three glorious months of summer vacation?
In reality, teaching is no spring breeze — teachers begin their days earlier than most corporate workers and often work late into the night, whether they’re coaching, serving on faculty committees, grading assignments, or planning the next day’s lessons. We’ve said it before: teaching, particularly in an independent school, is a demanding profession — and if teachers want to be excellent, they’ll need to devote quite a bit of time and energy across a range of subjects (academic, athletic, personal).
If you’re sure, though, that you want to teach, we congratulate you — it’s also an incredibly rewarding profession. Welcome to the business!
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