Ed2B: Educators’ Skills Translate

Are you a business owner or hiring manager?  If so, have you ever wondered what an applicant who’s a transitioning or former educator might bring to your organization?

I’ve worked for several years with adults who transition from business to teaching – for a variety of reasons, usually, to ‘make a difference.’

But what about teachers who make the move from education to the business world?  I call it Ed2B.  As I consider my next professional transition and update my LinkedIn profile, I find myself exploring this topic and wondering what the business community might look for if I sought a position outside Education?

What relevant skills make educators marketable in business?

After twenty years in Education, I’d say it depends, because I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in many classrooms.

Effective educators possess a myriad of skills that readily translate to business, making them excellent candidates for the position a business owner/hiring manager needs to fill (or create).

Things to look for/ask about:

Managing:  High school teachers manage 6 – 7 groups (work teams) and 150 – 300 personalities a day, adjusting hourly to group norms and behaviors. For some educators, effective classroom management drives successful team management; this skill is one they’d like to develop further in business.  For others, classroom management may be a strength, but managing others may not be a skill the educator wishes to develop further. I fall into this category. For still others, classroom management is a weakness and is sometimes the reason a teacher leaves the classroom.  Imagine having 25 – 50 children/teenagers in a room and chaos is the norm?  Not so good. Unfortunately, happens frequently.

Training:  Educators are responsible for identifying needs, designing and implementing appropriate learning experiences, monitoring outcomes, and adjusting next learning based on those outcomes.  If done well, learning experiences are timely, engaging, and meaningful to participants.  Admittedly, not all educators have mastered these three principles, but when they have, their trainees (i.e. students) are demonstrating understanding and moving forward. Isn’t this the goal for your employees participating in staff development?

Data:  Educators are increasingly required to collect and analyze formative and summative data, which may be qualitative or quantitative.  Interpreting data, identifying trends, and forecasting are skills you could expect from a transitioning educator. Note:  an educator’s degree of data use/level of understanding will vary widely.

Time Management:  Effective educators are also effective time managers. They set and meet deadlines.

Writing:  From lesson plans to home/school and peer communication and anecdotal reports, effective educators compose and communicate professionally and succinctly.

Public Speaking: Some educators, though definitely not all(!), possess lively, engaging presentation skills (think: marketing).  Surprisingly, this is not a general strength in classrooms, especially at the high school and college levels. Remember that monotone teacher/instructor you had back in the day?  Luckily, we are not all that way.  Need a candidate who can engage an audience?  Ask him/her to provide a 60-second video clip or speak for 30 seconds on a topic.

Technology:    Many educators utilize technology to enhance instruction. This may include social media, designing/planning  programs, learning platforms, video sharing sites, or Web 2.0 professional communities.  However… many do not. In my professional experience, technology use appears much more common in younger/newer teachers’ instruction or in Career & Technical classes and programs, but you can’t be sure. This old dog utilizes all the things mentioned in this post.  🙂  Ask a candidate what he or she uses and what his/her level of understanding is (a question my husband, a hiring manager, routinely asks). If invited back for a second round of interviews, perhaps ask a candidate to demonstrate his/her technology proficiency.

Collaboration:  I kept this skill ’til the end on purpose.  Though educators are increasingly expected to be collaborative, many are not.  The old adage, “Let me go in my classroom and close the door” still holds true for many.  Your degree of need for an employee to be collaborative may help you determine a candidate’s fit. Educators, particularly at the high school and college levels, are not – typically – overtly collaborative, unless they’ve worked in positions in which they were part of teams.  There are always exceptions to the rule, of course.  Also, elementary teachers seem inherently more collaborative, as they work in teams daily.

Interests:  Thought not always apparent in an educator’s classroom/instruction, his or her interests may drive the next professional transition, particularly if the educator has been teaching a long while and ready to explore a different side of life.  For example, though I’m a Literacy Educator, Reading Specialist, and Staff Developer by trade, my interests lie in travel, writing/blogging/reviewing, design, photography, vintage and antique items, and social media/community-brand development.  How do those interests fit into a career transition?  Given the right circumstances, I could see a number of possibilities!

Conversely, what if you are the transitioning/former educator? Which of these skills would you showcase?  Are there skills I’ve left out that you’d include?  Empathy comes to mind, though once again, I’ve seen it missing in colleagues.  They didn’t stay in education for long….

Business owners/hiring managers, what other skills would you look for?

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