Teaching in a traditional classroom setting can be exhausting. There’s the physical exhaustion of staying up late grading papers, the emotional drain of guiding an (often too large) group of emotionally needy students, and the mental strain of gathering and coordinating curriculum all year long.
No wonder over 44% of new public and private educators leave teaching within 5 years of starting their careers. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by teaching in the classroom, though, you don’t need to bail on your profession to find relief. There are so many other options for an educator to consider outside of the daily classroom grind.
Preparing for a Career Shift
While there are numerous options for an ambitious educator besides the typical K-12 classroom teaching structure, that doesn’t mean you can simply apply to a new job and assume everything will pan out without any bumps in the road.
That’s why it’s important to prepare yourself for the career shift that lies ahead. Sure, you’ll still be in the educational field, but corporate training, freelance writing, and even online tutoring require dramatic shifts in nearly every aspect of your professional life. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts to help you begin to prepare for the changes ahead:
a) Set Yourself Up for Success
Sometimes it’s the little things in life that matter the most. While you may be used to having free rein in your classroom, many of the jobs listed above require dramatic changes in your work environment. That’s why it’s helpful to pause, consider your potential new professional future, and then take some time to set the stage for success.
For instance, if you’re considering a work-from-home option, you may be looking forward to the sudden absence of 20 children taking up your social faculties on a daily basis. It may sound like a relief at first, but the change may be more jarring than you think. Make sure to create a stress-free environment in your home where you can acclimate to the shift without new stressors making you anxious, like extra classroom clutter you brought home with you.
b) Shift Your Mindset
Next up, make sure to give yourself time to shift your mindset from a classroom environment. Consider your own personal goals, what you want to accomplish, and how you’re going to go about doing so in your new job. Then, take time to develop good habits, like meditation, prayer, and morning routines, that will help you shift into your new career without too many ruffled feathers.
c) Assess Your Skill Set
Last and certainly not least, take some time to assess your skills before you begin applying for jobs. Consider things like:
- Interpersonal skills.
- Presentation and communication skills.
- Counseling capabilities.
- Project management.
- Writing, editing, and researching.
Understanding your own skillset will go a long way in helping you hone in on what option — or options — is the best for this next step in your career.
Teaching Jobs Outside of the Classroom
Below is an extensive list of career opportunities outside of the classroom. Some are alternatives in brick-and-mortar schools, while others offer opportunities to take your skills into other industries.
1) Advocate for Your Colleagues
When you taught, were you a part of your district’s teacher’s union? The National Education Association operates offices throughout the country and is the country’s largest employee organization. Members of the NEA advocate for educational progress, but they also work to protect the rights of students via the development of educators.
If you have a history of participating in political demonstrations or protests, take that passion and put it to use by lobbying for the NEA. Nonprofits like the NEA are always looking for experienced volunteers and employees to be their advocates and lobbyists for change.
2) Community Educator
Do you want to give back to your community in another meaningful way, but you want to continue to educate rather than make overt political statements? Community education is a perfect way to do this, and it comes in many forms. You can join the staff of your local YMCA or Boys and Girls Club creating and administering programs for both adults and children.
Are you an educator in a part of the country with high recidivism rates? You can contribute to lowering these rates by working in prisons and jails to offer educational opportunities. Studies show that the more education someone leaves incarceration with, the less likely he or she is to re-offend. If you offer Master’s level training, you can contribute to an effectively 0% recidivism rate.
3) Climb the Ladder
If you’re feeling trapped by the classroom, one simple solution is to head on up. Look for administrative positions within your school system or even another. From helping to coordinate curriculum right on up to a principal position, there are plenty of career alternatives likely within the four walls of your educational institution.
4) Take Your Passions Overseas
If you love teaching but you need something fresh and new, try taking your educating chops overseas. For instance, many countries are looking for English teachers, and if you speak it as your first language and have a degree to back things up, you’ll be more likely to land a foreign position if you choose to submit an international application.
5) Consider Tutoring
The developing role of teachers in the modern world has shifted educators’ collective priorities. With search engines, eLearning, and the Internet of Things available to provide ever-increasing quantities of facts and figures, students no longer always require a human teacher to give them data.
However, students still need teachers to guide and inform them on how to process that data. Often that takes the form of one-on-one instruction. Tutoring fits this bill perfectly, naturally making it an excellent alternative to a traditional classroom career.
6) Become a Corporate Trainer
If you’re looking for a break from working with younger students, you can look for opportunities to transition your career into a more professional setting. Consider looking for educational positions within corporate workspaces. These can be full-time for a larger company or as a contractor for smaller businesses that can’t afford to bring a trainer on staff.
Today’s larger companies are taking employee training and development very seriously — a 2018 survey by LinkedIn found that 94% of employees would have remained with an organization longer if more had been invested by the company in their careers. To that end, corporations are investing in a new C-suite officer: the Chief Learning Officer. Your experience as a classroom educator can be leveraged to build and manage learning and development programs for personnel in a variety of industries.
Corporate education can take multiple forms other than providing instruction for employees. For instance, writing coaches are commonly hired by companies in order to fill skills-gaps in their recently graduated employees who lack simple business writing capabilities. Corporate education can also manifest in the form of teaching clients about a company’s products. For example, often reps will be sent abroad to teach B2B customers how to use a company’s software.
7) Administer Tests
End-of-the-year testing can be complicated, and many states have strict requirements on who can administer them. Consider setting yourself up to oversee academic tests such as the SAT, MCAT, and ACT tests. While the specific process to become certified may vary by state, as a bona fide teacher, you likely already have the difficult part of the qualifications out of the way.
8) Join an Educational Publication
One way to stay in the educational world without the need to step foot in a classroom is by joining a publication. There are numerous publications focused on education, and landing a position as a writer or editor can allow you to express your educational prowess from a new angle.
You can use platforms like these to branch out from the restrictive methods and curricula of a particular school. You can dive into topics like educational techniques, the Heuristic Method of Learning, homeschooling versus public schooling, or the strengths of classical education.
9) Sell Curriculum
Many educational companies attend conventions to sell their materials. You may have even attended one of these as a teacher for your school. Try flipping the script and working on the other side of those vendor booths. Look for a curriculum company you believe in and apply to work the vendor halls for them.
Teaching Jobs From Home
In the internet age, every industry is increasingly growing more remote in nature — and the educational sector is no exception. Below are a variety of partial or entirely remote and freelance positions that can enable you to educate from home and — dare we say it — even while dressed in your pajamas at times.
10) Take Your Tutoring Online
Becoming an online tutor is a great way to marry your passion to educate with that common desire to, well, not leave your house at 6 am every morning. There are many sites, like Kaplan Test Prep and Tutor.com that connect tutors with students all over the world. Best of all, when you tutor, you can do it on your own schedule. And you can do it after you’ve retired from the classroom if you want to.
11) Explore eLearning
If you love teaching a class, but you abhor the brick-and-mortar setting, consider getting a position at an eLearning company. There are many companies that offer online teaching jobs, and this can provide a nice change of pace without dramatically altering your career path.
It can also be an excellent way to tap into some of the trending teaching options that mix traditional and technological methods, such as blended learning and encouraging students to collaborate online with the oversight of an educator.
12) Develop Curriculum
You’ve taught curriculum for years. Maybe it’s time to take that experience and create a curriculum yourself. Depending on your focus, experience, and expertise, you can help curriculum publishers on the backend — such as developing the software that makes an eLearning program tick — or you can even look for opportunities to research and create the material itself.
13) Create Crafts for Teachers Pay Teachers
If you’re feeling adventurous, you may want to take the whole “creative curriculum” idea to the next level. Use your classroom experience to begin developing your own projects, crafts, and unit studies to sell on Teachers Pay Teachers. The crowdsourced site is filled with countless success stories of educators that found new levels of success by sharing their own creativity with struggling fellow teachers.
14) Look for an Educational Blog
Finally, consider looking for an educational blog that speaks your language and is popular enough to pay its staff. You can apply for a writing, editing, content managing, or even a graphic design position and vent your educational opinions to the blogosphere. If you can find several sites that are hiring, you can even cobble together a successful freelance career, and leave your classroom behind for good.
If you can’t find an existing educational blog that speaks to you, start your own. How do you think those blogs got started? Edutopia offers a host of tips and tricks for creating your own educational blog, including a 30-day challenge to jumpstart your creativity. If you want to do it on your own, just hop onto a free web hosting site and get started. In 2020, it’s easy to set up your own site and start writing away on your favorite teaching subjects.
Educating Outside of the Classroom
From a school principal to running a booth at an education convention, tutoring online, or selling your own products on Teachers Pay Teachers, there are numerous ways to shift your focus from a traditional classroom to a more unique educational career.
However, it’s essential that you don’t make a change of this nature without carefully considering your situation first. Hastily making a life-altering career shift simply because you’re bored or overwhelmed can lead to headaches in the future. Take the time to assess your skills and goals and then make a wise decision. It may sound cliche, but as a modern educator, the world really is your oyster. You just need to decide what you truly are passionate about and then intentionally pursue it.