My Post Copy (4)

Growth is Uncomfortable – Tips for Teachers Transitioning to ID.

I am seeing lots of disappointed teachers returning to the classroom this fall, first I’m sorry for what you are returning to and I’m sorry we couldn’t do better.  Secondly, don’t give up. I know it sounds cheesy, but there really is a science to this career change and it takes A LOT of work.  I know you are staring at me, with the “I HAVE DONE THE WORK” and you probably did….this market is crazy.  But let me give you a couple of suggestions based on my own observations (absolutely biases and based on my own lens.)

Your LinkedIn Profile could be a problem.

I often come across teachers who are posting about the difficulty in finding work, and then when I look at their profile – they have “Educator” or “Teacher” as a title, their LinkedIn page is bare and/or very educator heavy.  Check out this post about the LinkedIn title formula. As much as it HURTS it’s time to change from who you are to what you WANT to be.  Even in the EdTech field, companies are corporate…while we have proven ourselves in the educational world, we haven’t done the same for corporate.  Yes, I know ALL the reasons why you would be a great fit BUT we have an uphill battle sadly, so put on your boots and let’s climb.

Start changing your language, student to learner, etc.  Simple changes to your vocabulary will be essential not only in speaking with people within the field, your LinkedIn page, your resume but also in interviews. Read Tim Slade’s book, it leads you through the WHOLE process of building eLearning. You WILL use this in your everyday job, I promise. And if you have the money, join his academy – he even has Articulate courses with it.

Brand Yourself & Your Portfolio?

SO MANY times I check out educator’s portfolios and they have no domain. I know this seems simple but this honestly is a telling sign, one of the biggest things moving into corporate was the fear that I was a teacher and didn’t REALLY want to make the move (or I wouldn’t stay.) You have to build a brand that distinguishes you from teaching, this includes a professional portfolio.  Many academies build their portfolios differently but I do believe that having a fleshed-out, professional WordPress website that I built (with the help of some tools…) got me a job.  I also believe my ID-focused blog has brought a lot of positive attention – which has helped with my job search.

The final iteration of my website has no educational pieces, and I removed A LOT of fluff. I also didn’t apply until I had two really fleshed-out eLearning pieces on my portfolio.  These pieces had a quick intro video showing some of the animations, a write-up on them, and screenshots. I got help and feedback from several communities as well as Tim Slade and Tyler Banh. I asked everyone I could to take a look, I absorbed their feedback and made changes. The response I got BEFORE and AFTER this was testament.  Building my portfolio showed my diversity, I can do screencasts, edit a lengthy video, create eLearning, build a website, and everything is branded, and as Tyler Banh likes to say “consistent.”

Track Your Applications

I hear a lot about “I have APPLIED TO SO MANY” but not really a definitive number, this LinkedIn post was telling, she applied to 188 positions! But as many people say, it only takes ONE yes. After I found this post I started my own spreadsheet and kept track of my applications. While I felt I had applied to so many, it wasn’t REALLY that much. And to put it into perspective many people (besides cybersecurity analysts and programmers) are applying for HUNDREDS of positions.

Be Realistic

I see a lot of teachers attempting to apply for big positions right away, Senior positions or positions at Wayfair, Amazon, etc. Start small. I looked at “uncool” industries like cybersecurity or cloud service providers (these two industries will only grow.) Credit Unions seem to be partial to teachers, I think it’s both the philosophy AND that we can pass background checks like nobody’s business. EdTech positions are getting applications in the HUNDREDS – think about your background, where you want to go, and apply strategically. Remote positions without a previous ID position under your belt or a REALLY solid brand/portfolio will be difficult. Look local, that’s how I got in…I live in a rural area and with my educational background, I was ahead of the hiring pool.  From what I have heard in the industry, you should start with a local position, then move to remote, and then you’re golden. And don’t be afraid of contract work…if it’s a W2 position (1099 is a hot mess tax situation.) Some have benefits or even 401ks and it can often get your foot in the door at some legendary companies (Apple, Google, etc.)

Change Your Resume…Again…

Please, meet with someone from teachlearndev.org, its free and they will walk you through adapting your resume from teacher language to corporate language. I have changed my resume several times and after meeting with Tyler I finally feel my resume is where it should be.  The ATS checker is real, sadly no one reads resumes…a computer does. And if that machine doesn’t ding green, you aren’t going to have a human look at it.  If you are getting constant denials or just plain ghosted….I would bet it was that.

Be Careful who you Trust

I really wish I didn’t have to type this one out. There are a lot of helpful people on the internet (I guess myself included) however some may not have the experience or background you think.  If someone who has NEVER worked a corporate job is telling you what you need to do to build your portfolio…I would analyze that.  If someone has been out of the market for several years and is calling teachers entitled, I would analyze that.  Also, Academies are not a cure-all, they will NOT get you a job in ID (they may help depending on the author though). And salaries are all over the place, no academy can guarantee any salary. Please investigate the resources that Cara North has posted before you put your money down. 

Also, not every company is legit. Vet their website, do they have a lock displayed in the address bar (this indicates that it’s secure), is the website fleshed out? Can you search them on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, or Indeed? Do your research and follow your gut, lots of people out here trying to steal everybody’s SSN.

Network

I cannot talk about this enough, it’s very foreign for teachers to do this…we often go to the district website to apply and BOOM we have an interview. As a Special Education teacher, I got every position I ever applied for…so it was HARD when I started to get 100’s of rejections (and believe me I wavered a lot about this transition.) But the biggest thing was following companies I wanted to work for, following the companies that are in the same industry as what I wanted to work in, and then interacting with posts by the company or that the company liked. At first, I built a strong connection with teachers who had or were transitioning but then I started to branch out to other seasoned Instructional Designers, and you know what? They taught me some amazing ID concepts – but I also brought my own STRONG educational background – especially inaccessibility. I love nerding out on learning and other IDs do too! So don’t be afraid to make those connections and you will find that many like job postings or post jobs…BOOM instant-in!


Teachers Are Instructional Designers

Teachers ARE Instructional Designers!

After 8 years in the classroom, I started my journey to transition outside of the classroom in early 2021, I was fortunate to find several great communities that were instrumental to my growth, I have written about them here and here.  Now I hope to give back to other teachers who are making their transition.  This post aims to advise others on what I did to get noticed, what my interview process was like, what I did in my job search, and provide any resources I have used.

First, get connected. When I was applying to positions by myself, I had no idea what I needed to reframe, adjust and focus on. Teaching: A Path to L&D opened up my eyes to the idea that I could not only make it out, but it gave me clear guidance on what I needed to adjust.  I use; adjust because teachers ARE instructional designers, curriculum designers, LMS handlers, hard workers, expert multitaskers, we simply need to reframe our experience and education.  Spend regular time on LinkedIn, I found TWO real job leads from LinkedIn. The one I am in now came directly from putting Instructional Designer as my tag line and being followed by someone in my area.  This person then posted a job listing, I reached out, we spoke over the phone and the rest is history!

Second, research what you want to do and narrow it down.  Often, I hear teachers so desperate to leave (and I was one) that they are casting their net too wide.  It sounds cheesy but find something you know will bring you joy AND don’t worry about leaving mid-year, you can leave. While leaving teaching was the best thing I could do mentally and physically, I am still a teacher, and I miss my kids.  Without meaningful work, we won’t make it; I still fight the urge to return to teaching even after a month in a wonderful position.  Next, decide what type of company do you want to work for, do you want to work in an office? Work from home? DO you want an EdTech or Tech or Bank? With a lifelong love of technology, I set my eyes on the tech sector (although I ended up at a credit union!) 

Once you decide where you want to go, you can build your roadmap.  I was one year away from getting my Masters; and researched if Boise State had an ID program/certificate I could add.  I contacted the Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) and they worked with me and my credits to build a plan for my final year.  By summer 2022, I will have a Workplace Instructional Design certificate and a Masters in EdTech.  I also signed up for Tim Slade’s Academy, and I purchased LinkedIn’s premium membership for LinkedIn Learning.

My plan was to start the clock the day I left school for the summer, and complete 3 summer online courses through Boise State, eLearning Designer’s Academy and build a fleshed-out portfolio using my previous website (I had started branding while trying to make the jump to EdTech) and build a new resume with a focus on Instructional Design. My plans changed when I ended up taking an Instructional Design position a week after school was done!  In that application I was straightforward about my experience and my lack of formal experience in Instructional Design, they were impressed by my passion, the energy I had about Instructional Design, AND my learning plan. 

Third, ask questions. It seems simple but I had no idea who Cara North was, she posted an article and I messaged her about Instructional Design Academies. I was so confused if I HAD to pay for one and was getting approached by “academies” that just didn’t feel right.  She responded and pointed me to an amazing woman who had left the classroom a year before. She offered to mentor me and suggested Tim Slade’s academy.  It was an investment, but it has really pushed me and the mentoring by Tim has been invaluable. Request resume help through the Teaching to L&D group, I was lucky enough to spend time getting ready for my interview with my current position.  Heidi Kirby gave me a set of common ID interview questions that I was able to edit and type out my own answers – it was perfect after years of teaching interviews!

Fourth, stand tall and proud, you are a teacher, you can handle anything, and you are an asset to any company.  Spend time adjusting your resume and cover letter, I used this Reddit post and I have had good responses so far.  Get familiar with the programs, Articulate has been a lot of fun and very easy to pick up if you used PowerPoint in the classroom. The Articulate E-Learning Heroes Community has been a fantastic resource, I can look up ANYTHING I want to do in a flash, and I have learned best by jumping in.

You can do this journey for free using the resources I have provided, using YouTube etc.  You do NOT need to pay for mentorship or guidance. Everything we were taught about pedagogy carries over; it may have a different term but you already know the theory.  You ARE an instructional designer, customer success manager, problem solver, so put that as your title. We got this! /flex

My Post (2)

Creating a Supportive ID Environment

The first blog I found was Lisa Zachau’s blog who is also an educator who is transitioning to Instructional Design like myself. From the outside, her blog seems straightforward and clear, not really any imposter syndrome. I started to think to myself, perhaps I should look at another blog, maybe they didn’t need my support.  But as I reviewed her blog posts I found a lack of her background present, no mention of teaching or how the topics drew from her educational experience. In that “light bulb” moment I felt like I needed to cheer her on, to encourage her to see the connections between teaching and instructional design. It’s a very fine line to walk as educators transitioning to ID, we have to appear confident like changing our tagline on LinkedIn to “Instructional Designer”, eliminating “aspiring” and we are encouraged not to include “Teacher” anywhere in our profiles using Educator or others.  While many people do not realize what we do on a daily basis, we have to find ways to make connections between what we have done and instructional design.  One of the most profound pieces of advice I got was when I had an early resume that stated “aspiring instructional designer” and my friend said “You are NOT aspiring, you ARE. You create these amazing learning pieces for your students, you know how to curriculum map and goal setting. You CAN do Instructional Design.” She forever changed my trajectory and outlook on Instructional Design. There are so many misconceptions about education, especially as many of the people who interview me haven’t experienced a 21st Century classroom, the engagement, the learning theories, the innovation, as teachers we are Masters of Learning and we can bring this to the instructional design field.

The second blog I found was Stephanie Hartwell’s blog, and right away I resonated with her post on perfectionism! This is something that I struggle with and I think it connects VERY closely with imposter syndrome. For myself, I often think if I can’t make it perfect then it won’t be good enough, and then when I start to look at others’ work or processes I realize I am doing pretty good (and often over the top.)  The last two years of my teaching career I really found myself, I started to find confidence in myself and my abilities (although hitting 30 helped with this.)  I really appreciated Stephanie’s candid conversations on how she commonly learns through rote memorization.  In education, I have to teach critical thinking and trial and error behaviors. Many students have spent their educational career memorizing things instead of asking questions, looking them up, and figuring things out.  I want to encourage Stephanie, you can problem-solve, you made some great points in your blog and it’s not something you don’t have in, just may not have been taught to you previously…but you got this!

Overall I think we can do a better job of supporting each other in this industry, when I started to transition it felt like little mini-communities everywhere with a lot of rogues doing their own thing.  One of the best things I found during my transition is the Teaching to L&D community who shares, support, and celebrates each other on a daily basis.  I know I can ask any question at any time, or even vent, and I know someone will be there to listen or help.  It’s been amazing and I think building a more supportive community especially for those transitioning is important. While I have heard some reservations about teachers transitioning, we are coming and the industry needs more folks and representation. Linkedin has been a great starting point but I think being open, helpful, and taking the time to pay forward any mentoring you received as you came into ID is imperative!

Lightbulb shining on a tree

Finding a Mentor in Tim Slade

Inspiration Post #6

Tim Slade has been such an amazing force in my life recently, after many recommendations I joined his eLearning Designers Academy.  As someone who started out “just working at a department store,” he has become a leader in the ID community and his book was one of my first purchases when I became serious about leaving the classroom. After much discussion with my Husband, research, and referrals from others I decided to sign up for his Academy.  Recently we had a 1:1 coaching session and it felt SO natural, I was able to discuss a lot of things and there weren’t any weird power dynamics at play.

As I am moving through 3 summer courses, I often jump into his academy training to find areas that correlate with what I am learning in OPWL.  His video explanations have helped me wrap my mind around some major concepts, and his workbooks have allowed me to clearly define my ideas for school projects. On top of that, the free eLearning Academy Community he has built has everyone from seasoned veterans to newbies like me. In the community we share resumes, portfolios and get quick feedback from everyone, including Tim. Tim has even created themes like Question of the Week or Feedback Fridays!

During our recent meeting, Tim helped me see the inside of the corporate world, guiding me to brand myself and keep pushing.  We discussed how unhappy I am in teaching, how broken the system is, and how hard interviewing as a teacher is. He gently encouraged me to see that while it’s tough, it’s clear I need to move on from teaching. It’s something I have felt inside for a long time, and it’s still scary to talk about.  Even writing this I feel overcome with sadness to leave a profession filled with children who need me. I remeber a teacher saying recently, we aren’t leaving them, we are picking ourselves and our families. Tim’s confidence in me was genuine and I am so grateful to have such a gentle force in my life, helping me with this pivot.  

If you are in the market for an eLearning Academy that is filled with positivity, resources, daily posts, and constant FANTASTIC feedback, please check out Tim Slade’s eLearning Designer’s Academy.  If you’re looking for a great book to read to see if ID is for you, I would also recommend Tim Slade’s The eLearning Designer’s Handbook: A Practical Guide to the eLearning Development Process for New eLearning Designers.  While some things are right out of a teacher’s manual, he frames in the corporate world, allowing me to take that into interviews, my resume, and practice.

Learning Reflection #5

As a transitioning teacher, it has been extremely tough, I never expected that while many start at 0 in the hiring process I am starting at -10.  I have to prove myself competent, I have to prove my tech skills and the fine line between relating my experience as a teacher and being seen as “too treachery”.  In an informal interview this week, simply a phone screen with the Manager of the department, we discussed her needs and I immediately went to scenario-based learning as a solution.  

The manager immediately perked up and we discussed how she also loves scenario learning, at the end of the call she encouraged me to apply, she said I sounded great.  And then there was the inevitable but….”but you have no corporate experience, I am not sure you will get past the recruiter.” she replied. I was devastated, my job fits perfectly in Instructional Design, I have almost two masters in education and a wealth of experience, and yet it feels like it hurts me?  

While I am still grappling with my “pivot” I am excited to continue to learn about SBeL and feel that the book we are reading could be one of the most important I read, and something I will refer back to often. It’s something I did in teaching. I even have a Mystery game I built for the Salem Witch Trials in PowerPoint, where the student is immersed in the world of Salem. The learner ultimately has to deduce who lied and what was happening in the Salem Witch trials. I am excited to see how my skills in this area continue to grow in this area and how I can translate these skills into corporate experince.