What does one do after teaching elementary school?
November 26, 2017 2:51 PM   Subscribe

I've (probably) decided to throw in the towel after 7 years of teaching the little ones, but I'm pretty unclear as to my next steps. What are some good options these days?

I'm going to finish out the academic year (through June 2018), but I'm just not sure how to go about this particular career change. My skills are about what you'd expect with a grade-school teacher: curriculum design and instruction (particularly beginning literacy, foundational math, science, social justice, and the social-emotional realm), organizational skills, patience, humor, creativity, good with people small and big, flexibility and extreme patience, etc. I'm also a musician and writer, which I've infused into my teaching. I'm interested in other jobs in education (Curriculum? Tech? Consultation?), but am unfamiliar with the landscape as it pertains to jobs, and am open to leaving the field entirely. I live in the SF Bay Area.

Couple notes:
- Timing is tricky (I need to return a signed contract in the spring for the 2018-19 schoolyear, so unless I break my contract—which I'm not 100% opposed to but would ideally like to avoid—I'd have to tell my employers but keep working until June). I do have the buffer of July and August being paid months, but I can't afford not to earn a salary in September. I have two young children who are sucking the money right out of me, as they seem to do.
- I haven't applied for a new job in 7 years, so I don't know what's changed about the process. A job coach sounds intriguing, but they seem to be pricey and I don't know how reliable a way to find work they are.
- Dream job involves some writing, creativity, and stay-at-home potential (flexible hours), but that's wish-list territory and I know I'll need to be pragmatic.
- It's possible that changing grade levels or schools would cure my malaise, but I would rather set my sights outside of the classroom.

I know this question is vaguer than I'd like, but it boils down to: what does a teacher do when he's done teaching, one who knows he's done with it but doesn't know what's next or how to figure it out?

posted by ORthey to Work & Money (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
One friend taught kindergarten for several years and then worked in the business office of a private school. I don't know the specifics, but it could have been alumni relations or philanthropy/grant writing, something like that.

Another friend taught middle school and now works as a literacy specialist for a book company. They help teachers find the right books to use in their classrooms (appropriate reading level, specific content, etc).
posted by Ms Vegetable at 3:16 PM on November 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine transitioned out by active looking for office admin work. She left in the middle of the school year but they had a long term sub replace her.
posted by k8t at 3:22 PM on November 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Check your pension vesting. I worked for a school district with a 10-year vesting plan; if a teacher left at 7 years, they could lose that pension.

You have quite a bit of time to decide what you want to do next, and the job market is strong.
posted by theora55 at 3:46 PM on November 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Lots of parents in the Bay Area pay pretty good money for private tutors for their children on a variety of subjects. Have you thought about tutoring? Would give you lots of free time during the school day to focus on writing or other personal pursuits.
posted by erst at 3:47 PM on November 26, 2017 [6 favorites]

You could find a local workforce center if you're in the US. DM me for a recommendation of an online resource specific to my location (but free for anyone). At least in my area, these centers have free classes and groups where you can sit with a coach and other people who are job searching.

My friend who used to teach elementary has been subbing and doing work in schools but not teaching -- think special programming, like popping in to lead the kids in a specific music or drama endeavor or an out-of-school-time thing. So she's still using her skills, but she's got a flexible schedule. Her income went down a bit but she's using the flexibility to explore and invest in her next career move, through interning and other things that take time but don't pay as well.

Temping would also be an option to help you get your skills up and explore what kind of work you'd like to do. Office experience is useful for many positions. Another teacher friend got an admin role after she left the classroom. She got that job through networking, just letting people know that she's an organized, energetic, smart person looking for a job.
posted by ramenopres at 4:16 PM on November 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm an elementary school teacher, and I idly think about museum education sometimes... especially when I take my students on field trips and experience subpar museum education. I would think there is a solid market for museum educators with actual classroom experience.
posted by raspberrE at 4:46 PM on November 26, 2017 [5 favorites]

My wife transitioned from 1st grade teacher to early intervention service coordinator for birth to three kids. She needed a bunch of certification and training, but has been a lot happier- she makes her own schedule, she has time to help kids in need one on one, and has great co-workers.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:06 PM on November 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

+1 for private tutor

Also become a curriculum design consultant for kids toys etc
posted by Hermione Granger at 6:41 PM on November 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

The advent of Common Core led to a HUGE uptick in curriculum design type jobs -- with textbook publishers, general publishers who wanted their books included in Common Core curriculums, tech companies producing educational software and apps, all kinds of things.

In the Bay Area, I'd definitely look at some tech companies producing educational apps and software; they hire teachers into everything from curriculum design, to writing the marketing pitches to schools (and parents) and software documentation for teachers (and parents), to going into schools and school boards and doing sales presentations.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:35 PM on November 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

I know that you're looking to get out of the classroom, but you might want to look into teaching at an online school. I know they're somewhat contentious, but my kid has attended several, and I've known quite a few people who taught at them, and in most cases, they taught their classes (usually audio-only, with a digital whiteboard for images, etc) from their home. There was usually a week or two of the year when they'd go proctor test for state-mandated testing.

Seconding educational publishing, too--editors with teaching degrees are often in demand.
posted by mishafletch at 7:46 PM on November 26, 2017

An acquaintance of mine in the Bay Area recently transitioned from teaching to curriculum design for Apple, so that's definitely possible and something you might want to pursue!
posted by jouir at 10:24 PM on November 26, 2017

Educational publishing and curriculum design are definitely options; depending on the specific job they can even be very creative AND work from home type jobs. Bay area is probably not the best place for an actual staff job though, unless, like jouir mentioned, you try and get in at one of the big tech companies that are starting to do school/ed stuff.

NB: I'm sure the tech companies pay well but your standard educational publishers...not so much.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:57 AM on November 27, 2017

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