President & Founder, Proximity Learning. Evan has 15+ years of experience putting students first as a digital education entrepreneur.
If you have read the headlines over the last six months, you would have undoubtedly seen several overarching topics: a mass exodus of teachers from the classroom and the challenge of finding and keeping quality employees—especially with trends like “quiet quitting.”
These topics are troubling for the country. But can the tens of thousands of teachers leaving the classrooms (paywall) help solve the rampant job openings companies are struggling to fill? Even though these teachers do not have the typical experience you are looking for, can they become an asset to your business?
I have turned to transitioning teachers to help fill my open positions. Over the past two years, I have hired over 100 former educators into my company, Proximity Learning Inc. What I have seen is with the right tools, roles, training and environment, transitioning teachers can become successful in the corporate world.
Empowering former teachers to pivot into new corporate leadership roles may seem daunting at first, but with the right support, training and growth mindset, teachers can lead successful corporate careers and become some of your most valuable employees.
Look for transferable skills.
Former teachers come to the corporate world with a wide range of experiences and varied skill sets that make them in high demand—the problem is they don’t always know it.
For example, I’ve found they have unprecedented presentation, communication and management skills that most job candidates just haven’t had to do on the same level. What’s unique about teachers is they typically have to be exceptional at myriad skills in order to captivate and manage a classroom full of students.
Teachers essentially perform or present every single day when delivering lessons to students. They have to be able to “take the temperature” of the room and read the crowd—much like reading cues from potential clients in the corporate sector.
Teachers have worked with ranges of personalities and seen (for better or for worse) all kinds of behaviors, which often makes them quite bureaucratic in the workplace. They understand teamwork and the importance of building collaborative communities in order to make things run more smoothly.
While many former teachers don’t often consider being the leader of the classroom a viable leadership role, managing to monitor and assess performance and/or mitigating issues between students can be helpful experience when managing a project or team that doesn’t always see eye-to-eye or simply works in different ways.
Create a strong onboarding process and provide continued support.
In order to help teachers acclimate to a new workforce environment, they will need supportive onboarding processes and helpful mentors that can support their former teacher background into a more corporate role.
Setting them up for success means choosing the right role to place them in and making sure that they communicate with the hiring managers and team leads about any concerns they may have. Thorough training and development is crucial.
A great way to provide transitioned teachers more leadership experience is to give them assignments where they can co-lead alongside a team member or alongside mentors or managers. Making sure transitioned teachers feel supported and comfortable to take the lead on their own after they’ve been acclimated onto the team is critical.
Most importantly, transitioned teachers should feel like it’s safe to ask questions and get clarification when it comes to understanding a new industry and/or set of norms. The most discouraging thing a new employer can do is communicate a “sink or swim” mentality.
Focus on upskilling and reskilling.
Upskill and reskill are terms most frequently referred to when taking courses to build skills that are very specific to a new role. Training and certification courses can ease the move from the education world to the corporate one.
Learning new skills for a job is crucial to transition into a new sector and to stay competitive in the job market. Many transitioned teachers come with such varied skill sets they might not even need upskilling but instead need reskilling in order to build their preexisting skills for the new role they are working within.
Online learning platforms like FutureLearn, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, Verb and edX are excellent examples of tools that can help with upskilling and reskilling. We recently began using one of these platforms and are seeing excellent strides with leadership development and the teaching of traditional business skills to help both existing team members and new ones cultivate their skills.
Network through online and face-to-face organizations.
Encouraging your new employees to network virtually with the intention of gleaning on-the-job knowledge and training from experienced peer professionals can help transitioned teachers leaps and bounds.
It’s especially important when working remotely or with hybrid work. Networking isn’t just about making friends in the new industry—it can help individuals identify the latest trends in the industry while keeping a pulse on the job market, facilitate meeting prospective mentors, partners and clients, and gain access to the necessary resources that will foster future career development.
We regularly schedule social events to get our hybrid teams together and away from their screens and in the presence of different teams. While we always keep the vibe casual, it has fostered some great opportunities for cross collaboration with teams and people that might not have had those opportunities by simply working from home.
Support new journeys.
In a world where it is not easy to find and hire quality employees, looking toward transitioning teachers could help your company grow and add valuable employees to the ranks. From my experience, teachers have so much to offer in the corporate world, and while I am sad to see them leave teaching, it’s exciting to see them pivoting and taking on new leadership opportunities.
I’m proud of the successes we’ve been able to accomplish together and will continue to support transitioning teachers because I have seen them go above and beyond when given the right environment for growth and development.