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Shelly Breaux (December)
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September 24, 2018

Transitioning into Teaching Outside of the Traditional Classroom

From Chapin Schnick

When I was named the Indiana Art Educator of the Year late last fall by the Art Education Association of Indiana (AEAI), I had a “what now?” moment. I’d always known I didn’t have any interest in being a school administrator, and aside from incredible opportunities and recognition along my art teaching path, the one thing that kind of sat in the back of my mind was, “how cool would it be to be a “teacher of the year”?” And then it happened. I had met the one far-fetched, “bucket list” career goal I had considered for myself. That is when I decided it was time to pursue education outside of teaching in a public school.

Enter The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (or “TCM”). I have volunteered for many Indianapolis-area nonprofits over the past several years, but some of my favorite experiences were serving TCM for special events and their Mid-North Promise Program. Now, as a part-time Gallery Facilitator in Special Exhibits, I have the privilege of facilitating educational programs related to our special exhibits, as well as fostering meaningful, engaging interactions with children and their families, as an emphasis on family learning is what brought me to TCM in the first place.

Chapin with Rex at The Children's Museum of IndianapolisChapin with Rex at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

In case you ever find yourself wondering about teaching gigs outside of the traditional classroom setting, whether full or part-time, I have compiled a list of resources I have encountered, over time.

  • Private Tutor
  • Corporate Trainer
  • Academic Advisor
  • Adult Literacy Teacher
  • Instructional Coordinator
  • Adjunct Professor/ Instructor
  • Barter School/ Trade School Organizations

Chapin Teaching Elementary Art Centers to Barter School IndyChapin Teaching "Elementary Art Centers" to Barter School Indy

  • Societies promoting education for Kids, like SWE (Society of Women Engineers) & Girls Inc.
  • Non-traditional settings like daycares, prisons, nursing homes, & treatment centers
  • After school programs - Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Fundraisers for friends & family (like a painting class, for example)
  • Education Director for nonprofits like museums, zoos, and parks
  • Hobbies via local clubs or stores - like knitting or dancing
  • Work from home options, like VIPKid Teachers
  • Fitness classes or coaching sports

Chapin Teaching Les Mills' Body PumpChapin Teaching Les Mills’ Body Pump

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I love the checklist for “How to Make the Transition From Teaching to a Second Career” at trade-schools.net, *which I have shortened for the sake of this blog post’s length.*

  1. Take stock of your professional traits and skills.Start by imagining what you would say to an interviewer who asked, "What do teachers do?" Visualize your role as a teacher and make a list of everything you've been responsible for, including tasks like: planning & preparing lessons, collaborating with colleagues, & assessing & developing curricula.

    With those tasks in mind, think about what it takes to pull them off. What kinds of skills or traits do you possess that have allowed you to perform as a teacher, and can serve as transferable skills? (i.e. adaptability, creativity, a passion for lifelong learning, and patience).

  2. Be open to all kinds of opportunities. Keeping an open mind is essential, especially during the initial phase of your job search. Be prepared to consider alternatives like teaching online or at a community college.

  3. Gain new experiences and start networking. Are you still teaching as you plan your exit from the profession? Try using some of your time off to get involved in volunteer work or other types of opportunities outside of teaching. The more you can use your professional abilities in a different context, the better you'll understand your true interests and capabilities. You'll also make new contacts who can act as references.

  4. Choose a path and get additional education (if necessary). At some point, you'll have to get specific about your goals. You'll need to pick a new career to pursue and find out how you measure up, which could mean needing additional certifications or accreditations.

  5. Gather references and refine your resume. Ask other teachers you've worked with to write letters of recommendation that highlight some of your best qualities or achievements. Do the same for any other close colleagues you've worked with inside or outside the education sector. Then do several drafts of your resume, refining it with each new iteration.

  6. Interview like a pro. Many former teachers worry that employers outside the education sector won't be interested in their abilities. While that may be true in some cases, most employers will be eager to learn how your skills will translate into a non-classroom position. Every interview is your opportunity to teach them.

  7. Stay persistent. Don't get too discouraged if things don't fall into place right away. Keep networking, applying for jobs, & promoting yourself. Experiment with slightly different tactics. Practice your interview skills. And always remember that you have a great deal to offer. By staying prepared and enthusiastic, you'll be ready to hit the ground running when the right opportunity finally comes along.

  8. Make the Change. You deserve a career that fulfills you. All kinds of jobs for former teachers are available, even beyond the ones listed above. So, don't limit yourself.

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What are some outside-the-traditional-classroom teaching jobs you have considered or experienced?  Please share your resources in a comment, below.

- CS

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