I have noticed that many educators have been conditioned to think about their teaching careers in a linear manner. I’m starting to see more and more qualified teachers who are expanding their interests outside the framework of a traditional school model. I think this is valuable to & for the profession and it can be an amazing experience worth exploring further.
Thinking in a linear way about your career is not always helpful - especially in the long run. I love talking & brainstorming about other ways to mix things up a bit. Some believe in the age old philosophy of “ride it out”, until the desired retirement factor is reached. Then, they have the ability to draw upon the coveted teacher pension - the perceived holy grail of pensions.
I am here to tell you that there are lots of creative ways to break up your teaching career into more interesting chunks. This fresh point of view allows a young professional to get out there and see how the rest of the world functions.
Okay - hard truth here… Educators can sometimes live in a bubble. And, because of this limited thinking about employment in other workplaces - especially those private sector - teachers deny themselves permission and access to trying out other things. Or, they miss out on more creative and refreshing ways to script their career timeline. Many educators are reluctant to see themselves in other roles. An open mind here is everything! I’m curious at how often a person who teaches defines themselves exclusively - as a teacher. No way! I would never want to be only defined by my work in education. I want to put myself out there as being open to other cool job opportunities.
Here are some alternate career path suggestions (& timelines) that you might like to consider. I hope that I have piqued your curiosity here - just a little bit …
1. Become More Comfortable with Taking Risks
Nothing good comes from always feeling comfortable & cozy. Put yourself in positions where you’re going to stretch. This whole adventure opens up when we are willing to see other job options out there.
2. No Closed Mindedness:
Educators pigeon hole themselves into thinking their skills are only suitable for the classroom. Not true! Consider these roles - which have many transferable skills connected to classroom teaching. Project Management. Academic Coach. Corporate Trainer. Staff Development. Instructional Design. Consultant. Camp or Program Director. Recruiter for University Programs. Sales Rep for an Education Company. Are these jobs going to fall into our lap? No. We’re going to have to go find them - which takes work, time, energy, effort & the right mindset.
3. Network Outside of Teaching
Teachers are notorious for hanging out with other teachers. Spread your wings and meet new connections who do not work in teaching. The ability to build a diverse network of people who work in other sectors is invaluable. This critical group of people may lead you to job opportunities that you don’t even know exist.
4. Go Part-time
Stay where you are for now because it’s familiar, but reduce your hours. This new-found time will allow you the ability to stretch yourself and create time & space for new learning. This can lead to some incredible opportunities - if you are open to this. Yes, it takes some financial planning to do this. However, with a bit of reflection & a willingness to look at this as a viable option, this can be done.
5. Supply Teach Exclusively
This role allows you to be in ultimate control of your own schedule. Work when you want and then don’t. The freedom to not seek out permanent contract employment is a truly viable option. If you want the ultimate flexibility and enjoyment, substitute teaching is an amazing option. Again, plan accordingly for retirement. This is doable with some careful planning.
6. Invest in Yourself
Swap out Netflix for courses. Spend your own cash on your growth and stop relying on the employer to provide your training. The beautiful thing here is you get to choose what you want to learn. No more “forced learning” based on what school boards are directing staff to learn. There are so many amazing choices that are now available if you want to upgrade your skills on your own terms. If there’s a specific skill that you want to learn, take the course in your free time. It will be really worth it in the long run.
7. Apply for a Teacher Exchange or X / Y
This one is self-explanatory. Choose another country and head out for a 2 year adventure. The option to do an x/y is readily available in many school districts. This is easy to figure out by consulting with your HR Department.
8. Depart The Profession Early & Draw a Reduced Pension
What’s your time worth to you? Nobody considers this option & it’s my personal favorite. Yes, it requires planning & preparation. But, don’t let that be your excuse. Imagine if you looked at this option from a critical lens and decided to work full time until age 50, then you drew an early & reduced pension. Once you’re collecting a pension, you can then work part time somewhere else in an area that is completely different from working full time in a school. ( I’m thinking about sharing my personal workbook on how I made this happen for myself. I get many inquiries on this exact topic. Stay tuned for how I might share this information on my website, so that others can explore this path. Here’s a teaser: by choosing to depart early, you don’t necessarily leave as much money on the table as you might think. I have an unconventional way to look at this scenario. More to come…)
9. Take a 3 month Unpaid Leave
Submit a request to take a Leave Without Pay for a few months. Investigate how your Board might offer this. Once again, it’s financially possible if you plan properly.
10. Go Teach At The Opposite Grade Level from Where You Currently Teach
If you teach at primary , go teach at grade 8. Alternatively, have you ever considered Adult Education? How about teaching at a College or University Program? How about becoming a part-time professor?
11. Seek Out The Opportunity To Change Schools or Work In A Private School
There is inherent value in moving schools. I don’t really understand educators who work their whole careers in the same building. Gotta get out and see other places!
12. Tutor Privately
This can be a lucrative opportunity if you seek out the right clients. For example, let’s say you set aside two nights per week to tutor. You decide to work with a maximum of 6 students. ( 3 students per night . 2 evenings per week ). Let’s say you charge $100 per session. You’ve just earned $600 per week and you’ve opened up all of your daytime schedule & now you are in complete control of your time. This is an incredible option if you’re drawing a reduced pension. Again, finding the right clients who are willing to pay is the key. I know loads of people who are earning a great income this way.
More and more educators are seeking more flexible work options. I know that these non-traditional pathways into and out of traditional teaching are only going to become more popular in the months and years to come. I’m sure there are lots of other options that I haven’t listed here - the trick is to simply adopt the right mindset.
So, what are you waiting for? Take the risk and start creating your personalized plan today - especially if you love the idea of exploring a different way to look at your career. Teaching is an incredible profession! It’s even more amazing if you look at the whole adventure through a different & flexible lens.
That's all I have for now.
Thanks for reading.