Transferrable Skills of Teachers

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hey All,

Many people in the Greater World Outside the Schoohouse seem to think that teachers spend their days staunching runny noses and helping kids pick Crayolas for their coloring pages while patiently watching the clock for recess and the calendar for their three months of summer to arrive.  It's not 1955, but even if it were, I doubt that fantasy would apply.

Maybe other teachers are having different experiences.  Regardless, I thought it would be helpful to someone else out there to see a list of transferrable skills that teachers have. Fellow teachers, do not let the world undervalue you.  That was a pep talk.  Did you hear the pom poms in my voice?

1.  Data Analysis and Response:
As a former teacher, I can collect, analyze, transform, and present data.  I have been expected to have "a pulse" on every living being in my classroom and his or her progress on at least 15-standards at once.  I can create slide decks, use formulas in Excel, run a regression analysis, and create a plan of action to get my client (little Bobby Smith) back on track.

2. Public Relations:
As a former teacher, I can compose messages that balance the negatives with the positives.  I have been expected actively to maintain professional relationships with over 100 clients and their families, community partners, four different local professional communities, district-level management.  I have participated in small meetings with legal ramifications, large team meetings, and district-level meetings, leading at times. During the course of 10-month intervals, I have maintained a professional Twitter, a portfolio website, a student website, an Edmodo site, and a weekly email, and all during a 60-minute per day allotment.

3. Public Speaking:
Is anyone else out there a middle school teacher?  If you can stand in front of a hostile audience, make them laugh, charm them, keep them challenged, or even keep their attention for 20-minutes, you can do anything.  As a former teacher, I can identify a purpose for a presentation, organize key points, create an agenda, and present my points in a range of situations-- with no handouts when the copy room is out of paper, with no projector when the bulb blows, with no prep time when a coworker calls in, with a mentally unstable person in the crowd creating distractions. I am experienced handling a range of disruptions.

4.  Team Management & Leadership:
As a former teacher, I have had interns (we call them student teachers), chatted with new teachers, co-led departments, and played decision-making roles in clubs and committees.  I've learned the value of speaking up, and I understand the importance of staying quiet.  I can create a procedures structure within my team and consistently follow through with rewards and disciplinary actions.  I can listen to my team's feedback, manage their growth, and produce results.  Then, I can help them own their results and work toward self-management in the future.  I am an advocate in my field for things I am passionate about.

5.  Content Knowledge, Training, and Learning:
Some say, "those who can't, teach."  I say, pardon me, but f**k that.  If you think about it for a minute, most of you will agree that it takes much more work to explain something to someone than it does to just do the task yourself.  Am I wrong?  So, those who are math teachers are content-fresh matematicians with the bonus that they are also willing and able to explain what they do to other human beings.  How many mathematicians do you know who have that bonus feature?  English teachers are writers, listeners, and content evaluators who also are willing to assist others in learning the skills.  Not only are teachers rich in content knowledge, but they have experience vetting what training works, what doesn't, and what should be adjusted mid-lesson.  The ADDIE model that HR trainers hold as a fundamental for adult trainers is identical to Backward Design.  Human beings want to understand WHY they're learning what they're learning and how it applies to life, not just adults.  Teachers are also avid learners.  Most of us are curious, interested in the world around us, and willing to listen.  We're the kind of people you'd take to happy hour.

I'm going to stop at five, though I could go on.  It is unfortunate that most working professionals, when they happen to think about the lives of teachers, consider what they knew of teachers when they, themselves, were 13: my teacher gets summers off, my teacher does nothing except lead my class for 50-minutes, and my teacher must live at the school.  World at large, the teachers I have met have been highly educated, multi-faceted, skilled professionals who are capable of a range of tasks and careers.  You, professionals, are 13 no longer; you have grown up.  It's time for your view of teachers to grow up, too.

Reality.  Skills.  Teachers have them. If you have kids, you owe them props.  If you don't have kids, you owe them props.

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