When Teachers Become Students: Smart Ways to Further Your Career as an Educator
The teaching profession has become a minefield of metrics and measurements, and the level of scrutiny only seems to get stricter with each passing year. Professionals in the teaching field respond, usually, in one of two ways. They either double down on simply testing better for teaching skills, or work hard to invest in their own skill level in order to deliver a better learning experience in class for students.
As a teacher, continuing education can achieve much more than help students. It can open doors to make way for promotions, for instance, and bring in high-profile assignments. It doesn't matter how far along in your career you are. Things can only improve if you never stop learning.
Finding different educational opportunities
Online Education: While the conventional path for teachers aiming to boost their skills has always been to attend college or grad school courses in person, online education is considered perfectly acceptable today. If you find the right school and self-motivated well, you will find that learning at your own pace makes for good progress.
Conventional Formal Education: Too many people in teaching, attending formal classes at institutions of higher learning can be difficult, given their work hours. Yet, to those who can take time off from their teaching career or find a part-time course, it can be well worth the results. Learning directly from a qualified tutor works very well for some, rather than from videos and books.
Attending Night School: Many professional teachers see night school as the only viable path to attempting conventional in-person learning while maintaining a full load of work. It can take a great work ethic to handle both a course load and a career, though.
Teachers need to invest in networking to get ahead just as one would in any regular career. The more one networks, the greater the chances are of coming by desirable work assignments. Obtaining assignments through one's connections is not unprofessional, as some might think. It doesn't amount to seeking favors or pulling strings. Rather, it is simply something that allows people to be in the right place at the right time in a system that is yet far from perfect at identifying great talent.
Extend your networking beyond work
LinkedIn and other professional networking tools allow teachers to expand their professional network far and wide, and to identify important people in their profession, wherever they may be. Not only does this help them tap into the wider community, it serves as a source of information about job opportunities, and helps expand horizons. Teachers can identify better ways to bring quality to their own teaching by interacting with others, and keep up with change as it happens.
Make an impact
If you aren't the networking type, there's another way to gain recognition -- you need to make an impact. Not only should you identify new ways in which to make small changes improving the learning environment where you work, you should document your work and maintain a portfolio, as well. A quality portfolio can be a great asset as you try to showcase your talent. It works for the teaching field just as it does in any other career.
Be an agent of change
Rather than finding ways to keep up with change, it's always a good idea to attempt to bring in change yourself. Reading up on the latest trends in teaching, and attempting to try those techniques in your own interactions with your students can be an excellent way to both bring in change and to build up a portfolio. When you share the results of your attempts on the same forums that you find such ideas, you can begin to demonstrate your creativity to the teaching world at large, as well. As a teacher with a substantial online presence, you can soon turn into a sought-after authority.
Be willing to relocate
Those who are willing to move to better school districts elsewhere in the country can hope to come by better opportunities more quickly than those who restrict themselves to smaller geographical areas for any reason. It's important to not jump at every opportunity that appears promising, though. Any decision to move should be preceded by considerable research on the quality of the school district in question. School districts in many parts country put their board meetings on YouTube, for instance. A quick view can be very informative.
Guest Contributor - Joseph C'de Baca MA Ed. is a classroom teacher of more than 20 years. He has taught at the middle school and high school level for both industrial education and social studies. He is a Head Instructor for teacher continuing education courses at TLC.