Teachers in Business

The Missing Piece from the Conversation Around Leaving Teaching

November 09, 2021 Sara Torpey Season 1 Episode 48
Teachers in Business
The Missing Piece from the Conversation Around Leaving Teaching
Show Notes Transcript

If you are a teacher, or you are plugged into the education world in any way, you know there is a BIG conversation going on right now about TRANSITIONING out of teaching. 

For a whole host of reasons there are more teachers than ever thinking about leaving school buildings, and as a result there is a robust conversation going on around what that transition might look like. 

There's a lot of talk about the wide array of skills teachers have, and how awesome they are, and all of the opportunities that exist for them to apply those skills OUTSIDE of school buildings...and all of that is very reasonable, very practical advice. 

And also, there's a BIG component missing (like the chicken in the chicken soup big). 

Today we're going to talk about this missing piece; what it is, why it matters, and also how to NOT miss it if you are one of the 1000s of teachers thinking of transitioning...


Hey, everybody. So this week, I want to talk a little bit about this larger conversation going on in the world right now about transitioning it out of education. So if you are someone in teaching now, or you're plugged into the education world, and you teach part time, or you know, a lot of teachers or whatever, you know, just like I do that there's a big conversation going on right now related to transitioning, there are for a whole host of reasons that I am not going to go through here today that you can name, including COVID, there are more teachers than ever thinking about leaving school buildings. There were teachers leaving school buildings before COVID, for all of the same reasons. But the result is right now the volume of teachers having this conversation has increased. And so there's a fairly robust conversation going on, at least in my places, and around the people that I work with and know well, in the education space. This conversation is about what transitioning might look like, you know, over the last couple of months, I've been sort of listening in and talking with people and connecting. And what has become more and more apparent to me is there's really a missing piece in this conversation, there's a lot of talk about the array of skills that teachers have, which is wide in deep and varied and vital. And how awesome teachers are, honestly, because of all of the things that they know how to do well, all of the hats, they can wear at the same time, all of the moving parts they can manage. And then all of the opportunities for application that are open to them, you know, sort of in the education world, outside of school buildings, and and beyond. But I think that part of what's missing from the conversation is really about what, so having conversations about skills, having conversations about what to do with those skills, and what they turn into in the business world, for example, or in the EdTech world in particular, wherever is great, it's all very reasonable. It's very practical, it's very purposeful, and I'm not offended by any of it. I'm not trying to hurt any of it. I appreciate all but I think people need to understand what the options are a lot of the times like I was talking to a connection this morning, and I know, she and I had a very similar experience, where like, I went to school to be a teacher, and then I got a teaching job. And then all of a sudden, I wasn't teaching anymore. And it was like, Oh, wow, there's a whole world out here. And I never even turned my head to look at any of it. I didn't know any of it existed. So teachers do need, like, here's some options. But I think what's really missing from the conversation, it's like, like chicken soup without chicken is what you love to do. So I think that the overriding question that people who are considering leaving teaching that that are looking for something else really ought to be asking is what do you love to do? And then the second question is, what do you need? I know for me, when I transitioned into the business world, we're in into entrepreneurship. Part of that was driven by doing this same exercise. So I actually had a friend, sit me down and take me through something like this, where she had me make a list of all the things I'm good at all my skills. And as a teacher, like I have a lot of skills. And I had a lot of other skills once I had worked in the corporate world for a little while I had a quite an interesting skill set, my husband says I am like a ninja of random things. And then what really mattered after that, though, was comparing the skills I have and what I'm really good at, to what I really love to do. So I'm great at Excel, but I do not want to spend all day in spreadsheets. I am great at


managing loads of people. I'm good at that. I've done that a lot in various roles over the years, but I don't really want to do that full time now. And pairing the skills that I have with what I want to do and looking for the overlap was vital because it's really possible to look at your skill set and overlay that with job titles. and corporate roles and all of these other things, and in find really good matches, but if you get there and you're using skills you don't enjoy using, there was no point in leaving, like, maybe you're making more money, maybe you're not. But if the overlap is only simply on skills you have and not skills you love to use, then it is very different. The other thing that really mattered. In this conversation, when I transitioned was thinking really strategically about what I need and value. For me, you know, I made a list of all the things I need, and they started really practical. They started with like, X amount of money. And you know, this amount of time on weekends, and like really day to day, like down in the dirt practical thing is because I'm, in my core, a relatively practical girl, like I was a math teacher, man, it's a pretty linear world out there for me. But when I really sat with what I needed, what I needed more than anything at that point in my life, and still today is flexibility. And so when I looked at the Venn diagram, that was, what I love to do, what skills I had, and what I really needed, the overlap pointed to entrepreneurship, because the only way for me to get the flexibility that I really wanted and needed, along with applying the skills that I have in the way I love to apply them, really was to do it my way doing my thing. In Yes, that's terrifying. I understand. Like, I left a paycheck, I left a paycheck bigger than my teaching paycheck, actually, to start my own businesses. And, and I didn't do that without a cushion, like I was teaching part time college kids at the time, I still do some of that. And really, over the years, it's much more about love than it is about the money because it's not a billion dollars. But it really was. Because I knew that structurally, I was not going to get what I needed to run my life to live the life that I wanted, and to do the kind of good that I wanted to do out in the world for other people, by fitting into anybody else's rulebook. I think everybody's different here. I know this, some people really, really value security. And what they need more than anything is stability and security and benefits. And that's okay, if that is what raises to the top for you, then it's probably something more corporate more at Tech, more traditional career path wise, it might even be in a school system in a different role, or for a company that contracts with the school system. But it really does depend on that overlap in the Venn diagram for you. And I think that, as teachers, we want the answers to be very linear linear, we want to be able to say like, Okay, here's my skill set, here are the job options I can apply for, let me go apply for all of those. Or like, I like this one, I don't like this one. I don't want to write curriculum, but I could, so I'll apply for those anyways, I mean, I did a bunch of that. So I would make a few suggestions. I think first to really, really, really truly take a bunch of time if you are transitioning out of teaching, or even if you're transitioning from one role to another, or you're transitioning your business in some way. Honestly, this is a valuable exercise to do at any point. It's what skills do I have? Then what am I really good at? What do I love to do most? And what do I need? And use those overlapping answers to sort of center yourself? And then you know, there's there's a colleague I'm connected to on LinkedIn, who always talks about


getting experience. And so for me from there, it was saying yes, strategically. I think it's okay to go experiment. Like I took contract work in the curriculum writing world for a little while. I did freelance projects, where I was developing content and I was being sort of a consultant for companies that were creating educational content. I taught college kids part time and still do. I did some professional development contractually. You know, I did a bunch of the things that I knew I was good at and enjoyed until I could filter through them and think like, I'm like, it turned out that writing curriculum and working on other people's timelines and doing all the editing was not my cup of tea. Like, did I was I good at it? Sure. Did. I love doing it? No. Was it flexible? Yeah, actually, it was. I also did editing for mystery shopping reports for a long time. And that ticked a lot of boxes for me because it was flexible. Because the money was decent. But at a certain point, it was too much of a Time Eater, that I had to let it go. So it's okay to have things on the side. It's okay to try a bunch of little things. When I first started my first business. I had a consulting role, I was teaching a couple of classes at two different colleges. And I was doing some curriculum writing and editing part time Oh, and mystery shopping. So like, I didn't just do one thing. You know, teachers are capable of a lot of things, I did a lot of trying things. And I think, for people who always knew they would be in education, when you go to leave, it's a little like, Oh, crap. Like, what I don't even know what to do. Now I feel so at sea. That's a way to try a little like the sampler menu of internships that you might have done out of college if you hadn't known what you wanted to do. But since you did, you channeled yourself right in. If you're making this transition, it's okay to try things. But also, if you know, sort of more about what you want and what you need, it becomes a lot easier to pick and choose what you're trying. Like, there were things I didn't do, I didn't tutor ever, because I don't want to do that. Like it just it's not. I knew I didn't want to do that. I didn't. I had already worked at Britannica, which is vaguely kind of edtech. And I knew I didn't want to go that route. I don't really want to be coding anything or designing things. That's not what I do. It's not one of my skill sets if that's something I'm good at, and I didn't really want to learn to. So it really helps to give yourself some center from which to choose. And then as you move into your transition, and listen, you have to take care of your needs. But I think the important thing to know is there are a lot of options for teachers, they are wider than you realize. And one of the options is making your own. Like it's like ordering from the pizza parlor, you can order the traditional pizzas they have on the list the pepperoni, the cheese, the sausage, the veggie, you can order one of their fancy ones, like one of the pizza places we have here makes a pesto and roasted tomato and onion and goat cheese pizza that I love. It's fancy though, or you can make it yourself and decide what goes on your pizza. Like any version of that is okay. But you have to decide and you have to try a little bit it's okay to experiment.


That being said, if what you are thinking about is the business world is starting your own thing is really valuing your flexibility and your time and doing it your way. Like for me it really was about like I don't want to fit in anyone else's box like I might as well just build my own freakin box. For me, that was the route if it's also the route for you, please feel free to reach out like I talk to transitioning teachers about stuff like this all the time. I talked to two of them today where I just listen to their story and tell them mine. Sometimes they become clients, sometimes they join my group, sometimes not. But part of what I do best. And part of why I'm here out in the world is to offer that kind of window to other people because people offered it to me. And if you are having the conversation if you're thinking about transitioning and you need some direction, it's part of what I help people with part of what I can help you with. If you want to connect feel free to come on into my Facebook group which is called Teachers in Business you belong even if you're not going to start a business you might be headed out to somewhere else you belong trust me. You can head to my website which is torpeycoaching.com  and book a time to talk or you can send me an email sara@torpeycoaching.com and say like, Hey, I'd love to pick your brain or you can come find me on LinkedIn, I have LOTS of teacher connections there. But I would love to talk with you about what you're thinking and help you sort it through. One of the one of the gifts that I get to give out in the world is to help people thinking through things like this from a perspective of someone who's done it and ask them all the questions that I wish someone had asked me. So, that is it for this week. I will see you all next week on teachers in business. Have a great week.