Many of us consider ourselves to be what Edjacent guest author Kellie Weisenbeck calls her blog – More Than a Teacher. Kellie is a recently retired educator, embarking on a new life as an education consultant. In a recent post on her blog, which details her transition from the classroom to her new career path, Kellie reflects on the “chapters” of her journey for two important audiences. In her own words:
“For my fellow educators: There is life after teaching. I pray that my experiences can help at least one of my readers. (LOL! I say that like I have a following or a true audience! But it is my story, so I get to make up my audience too!)
For myself: I find writing this blog to be therapeutic. Reflection leads to growth and change. Even if I am my only audience, I find that I’m worth it!”
This story is TO BE CONTINUED for sure, but we are excited for Kellie and excited to learn from her new journey! (Read the original post on Kellie’s blog here.)
Those are very liberating words for me. My teaching story began a lifetime ago in a 2nd grade classroom and over the last few decades many interesting chapters have been written in that story. My teaching tale has featured an incredible cast of characters, and some interesting plot twists. However, the final chapter has been written, and my 30+ year career in the classroom has officially come to a close. (Cue celebration music!)
So now my sequel story is the early development stages. Like so many sequels, the main character is the same in many respects, but experience and growth have created lasting change. In my new story, I am an educational technology trainer and consultant and I love the new role!
Chapter 1: Opening Doors With LinkedIn
Just about a year ago, I decided I needed to build a presence on LinkedIn. I began small, reaching out to ANYONE that I had the smallest tie to. I scoured my school emails from over the past several years for any EdTech sales people, team members, or community managers and sent them personal connection requests. I scoured my favorite companies for any names that were vaguely familiar, and looked for employees who had roles that interested me. Those connections began to grow, and my connections grew from one to well over 500! I tried to be mindful of who I connected with so that there was a mutual support system in place. The LinkedIn community has been an incredible source of support along this journey.
Chapter 2: Taking Chances
The 20-21 school year was not easy for any teacher, and my final year was no exception. The stress and anxiety was immense! Not only was there the whole pandemic overshadowing every facet of my life, BUT there was also the stress of “What’s Next?”
By November, I have to admit, I was seriously considering walking out of the school district early and taking a serious cut in retirement pay. I put out some serious resume inquiries and was lucky enough to land not one, but four interviews! Now, wanting to walk out the door and actually doing it are two entirely different realities, so I took those interviews with much trepidation. Would I really be able to leave and opt for early retirement? I mean, I’d survived 29 years and six months; was six more months really that impossible?
So, when I set up the interviews, I declared it was a “learning experience.” My interview skills were rusty and honestly, I didn’t believe interviewing to be a teacher would really compare to a “real-life” interview. (BTW, they don’t even come close!) I prepped for the interviews, and miracles of miracles, I was offered TWO contact positions as a trainer! Better yet, both companies were willing to let me start out slowly and complete the school year before becoming more heavily involved! Definitely a win/win outcome!
Chapter 3: Redefining A Vision
Moving from one story to the next means that the central plot or vision has to move in a different direction as well. In the past year, I had to redefine my character. I wasn’t abandoning the many skills, talents, and gifts I have developed and nurtured over the years. Instead, I was redefining them! With the help of some incredible people that I’d connected with through LinkedIn I discovered new ventures that I could embark on that utilized those skills. I began participating in webinars, discussions, and meetups to help extend my vision. LinkedIn has an incredible learning library, and I soaked up everything I could find that would help me develop skills as a trainer and an instructional designer.
I allowed myself to fearlessly tackle new challenges. One of my LinkedIn connections introduced me to an EdTech company leader who saw value in the teacher I had been and the redefined educational consultant I was becoming. I began to see myself as more than just a trainer, but someone who could write new curriculum, create new learning products, and impact education in a whole new way.
Chapter 4 – ?: Unknown ??
So, what is next?
The next few chapters haven’t been written yet. I’ve got some ideas, but I have to see how those ideas develop and transform my story into something new. I do know that these next chapters will focus on new challenges and obstacles that must be dealt with in order to move the story forward. These chapters will include a few minor conflicts and hopefully some plausible resolutions.
I’m working on a rough outline that will help me develop this part of my story:
- Panic and fear seep in and causes a bit of anxiety as I overextend myself and take on a few too many new contracting opportunities. Learn to prioritize and manage calendar appointments!
- Addiction to checking survey results received after multiple trainings leads to euphoria and heightened self-confidence. This leads to new addiction to taking on new training roles. (This leads back to first bullet point!)
- Opening new business accounts and officially having a personal business leads to new ventures and opportunities. But is it the best path for me?
- Questions arise focusing on the companies that I currently contract with and whether those contracts will sustain me financially, emotionally, and intellectually. There is such huge difference in pay scales! While I am only working for companies that I really want to work for and be a part of, some of them don’t pay well at all. Is it worth sticking with them or should I look for other companies? Or do I look to become full time somewhere?
- Closely tied to that last point, how does one ask for more money? Teachers don’t do that. I’ve never asked for a raise in my life. I wonder how that is done.
– TO BE CONTINUED