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Leaving the Classroom 48: From Classroom to Corporate Jared Speight's Journey into Instructional Design

#formerteacher #leaving the classroom podcast #leavingteaching #leavingtheclassroom #teacher #teacherburnout #teachercareertransitions #teacherresume #teachers #teacherskills #teachertocorporate #teachertransition #transferableteacherskills May 29, 2024

Leaving the Classroom: A Transitioning Teacher Podcast

Leaving the Classroom 48: From Classroom to Corporate Jared Speight's Journey into Instructional Design

In this episode of Leaving the Classroom, former teacher Jared Speight shares his journey transitioning from teaching to instructional design. 

Tune in to hear:

  • Jared's story of transitioning from 14 years in the classroom to an instructional design role due to burnout from COVID. 
  • Strategies for building an instructional design portfolio through groups, challenges, and independent projects.
  • Insights on transferring teaching skills like curiosity, delivering instruction, and empathy to instructional design work.

 Listen to the episode here:

Connect with Jared on LinkedIn

Connect with Kristi on LinkedIn

This podcast is sponsored by IDOL Courses and is the only authorized vocational school and implementation program of its kind that not only shows you exactly how to create your job application assets and build a portfolio from scratch, but also includes credentials, mentorship, expert coaching, and paid experience opportunities in corporate instructional design and online learning for life! Learn more about the program here. 

Enjoy the podcast transcription:

Kristi Oliva  

Welcome to Leaving the Classroom. This is a podcast for teachers who are ready to transition out of the classroom and into a new career. Each week I'll share stories about what I've learned moving from education to the corporate world. I'll answer the most common questions and share my best tips to help you get started. If you are considering leaving the classroom, this show is for you. 

 

Kristi Oliva  

Hello, everyone. Welcome to Leaving the Classroom. I'm Kristi Oliva. I'm so glad you are here. Today I'm talking to Jared Speight, former teacher turned instructional designer. Welcome, Jared.

 

Jared Speight  

Thank you. It's nice to be here.

 

Kristi Oliva  

Yeah. Thanks for joining us. So I met you on LinkedIn and I'm always looking to meet former teachers who have transitioned into other roles. So I'd love to hear and I'm sure our audience would love to hear like how long were you a teacher and what interested you in instructional design? How did you get out? Tell us your whole story.

 

Jared Speight  

All right. So I was a middle school and high school teacher for about 14 years. I did English Language
Arts and Social Studies. I  also had a little bit of adult learning kind of sprinkled in doing some adjunct classes for the community college, teaching incarcerated adults and I loved it. I knew I wanted to be a teacher since I was nine. I enjoyed it but COVID hit and COVID kind of changed things and teaching was bad for my mental and physical health. So I knew I needed to transition out and I started looking at different careers that I could potentially move to and eventually landed on instructional design.

 

Kristi Oliva  

Awesome. So, how did you first hear about instructional design, and then what did you figure out were your next steps to move into that role?



Jared Speight

Going into my job search, I kind of break it down into two different periods. The first stage was just the clueless, spray and pray. I know a lot of teachers go through that but the job market was supposedly good, lots of people were hiring. So I thought it shouldn't be too difficult for me to get a job. I spent Thanksgiving break and winter break applying to like 120 jobs over a few months and I got one email back about the potential for an interview. So that didn't work. I was applying for everything right; administrative assistant, and instructional designer, even though I didn't fully understand what an instructional designer was. Anything to get out and into a remote position that was less stressful and then after I realized that was not working, I kind of buckled down and narrowed my focus, and changed the approach. So I looked at things that I was good at in the classroom, things that I enjoyed, and kind of looked at fields that were adjacent to education, and which ones kind of check those boxes and that was when I stumbled into instructional design.

 

Kristi Oliva  

I can totally relate to that. I remember when I was trying to leave, I was doing that spray and pray, too, and I got an interview for an instructional technologist role, and I had no clue what that even meant. I was just like, super stoked, and now looking back, I'm like, "Why did they even interview me?" I was just really trying so hard to get anything. I think that's a common thing with teachers. They just are like, I will take anything, just get me out. So you discovered instructional design. I remember that same thing of like, wow, people get paid to do this. This sounds like so perfect. So then how did you go about building a portfolio or whatever you needed to prove that you could do the job? Because I know that that is another barrier to entry into this role is a portfolio. Did you need one? How did you go about that? 

 

Jared Speight

Yes, so definitely needed a portfolio, I think it'd be impossible to get a job in instructional design right now without some kind of portfolio, and work samples you can share. I was still very much in the mindset, that I didn't know what field of instructional design I wanted to go into. So I enrolled in a graduate program, at the American College of Education for Instructional Design and Technology. I don't think grad school is necessary. I think it's a bad idea for a lot of people, but I didn't know if I wanted to go into higher education, corporate, or government, and I think that a degree is more beneficial if you're going toward higher ed, obviously, or government. I saw it listed on a lot of jobs, so I enrolled in the program. What I found was that it was great for learning theory, framework, and models, but not so much for application. Barely any application in the program. So I kind of started looking at the side of, “What can I do to supplement this degree?” And I kind of got lucky. There's a person named Russell Sweet, who happens to be in my city and was also looking to become an instructional designer, and he randomly messaged me on LinkedIn. He's a part of GLDC, which is the Global Learning and Development Community and he said, "Hey, I host this group. We're a Storyline project club. We meet every week, you can come and check it out." So I learned with that group, and then a little bit of tinkering on my own, how to build courses and Storylines. I eventually ended up with a portfolio from that.

 

Kristi Oliva  

We have a very similar journey. I got to be honest because that was the same for me. Where I enrolled in a master's program. Now, on the other side of it, I realize I learned nothing that I still use in instructional design. I mean, some of that theory, but as a teacher, I think we kind of had exposure to that learning theory already, but it was the software that I had to learn and actually building a portfolio, which I did not learn how to do in my master's program. Like we didn't learn about art. I didn't even know what an Articulate Storyline was even after my master's program. That's how.. it makes me sad, because it's like, isn't that the whole point of a program? So tell me more about what value that group lent to you. Can somebody just build a portfolio by themselves? Why was the group part valuable? Because I think I already know, but I'd love for you to tell me. What did that provide for you?

 

Jared Speight  

It kind of provided more structure and support. I'm a tinkerer, and I do learn just by clicking around and figuring out how things work, but it was nice to be able to meet with people, share my work, and get feedback on it. I can design something, but it's better if somebody else tests it and looks at it. 

 

Kristi Oliva  

Yeah, that's huge too- feedback. 

 

Jared Speight  

That was great. So that group kind of provided a structure and a framework for that. And then the other thing it is good at is they share other people's projects. So, the e-learning heroes challenges that Articulate posts every week, they kind of go through some of the exemplars there. So you're able to see some of the exemplars or projects. Then we could talk about, "Well, I think this is how they did that. They probably use these triggers in these states," and then, some of the people in those challenges even share their source files. So it was just a great way for me to look at people who know what they're doing and then kind of mimic or reverse engineer what they're building.

 

 

Kristi Oliva  

Yeah! I used those, too. I have quite a few of those in my portfolio. Actually, some of my portfolio pieces came from those challenges. So if anybody's interested, just go to e-learning heroes, and they have a monthly challenge where they kind of tell you… they give you a setup, and then you just take that creatively, and as Jared said, it gives you a lot of examples of what pros are doing because there are so many people who have been in the instructional design space for decades and so they're still participating every month. As he said, some of them give their source files, so you can look behind the scenes at how they actually made those interactions and I remember just loving that, like challenging myself to interact with that challenge, because they post everybody who participates, your projects gets posted on the website and I just remember feeling so cool. I was like, "Oh my gosh." So, I put that on my portfolio. I linked to the site. I'm like, my project is on a real website. I felt so awesome about that. So thank you for bringing that up.

 

Jared Speight  

Yeah, David Anderson's giving me feedback on my...

 

Kristi Oliva  

I know!

 

Jared Speight  

That's incredible.I don't know if you know this, but Tim Slade started doing a monthly challenge as well in his e-learning heroes community. He even gives branding kits. So I know that one thing I hated whenever I was building my portfolio was, "Do I really want to make up a company and then make up a problem for a fictional thing?" But he does all that for you. And…

 

Kristi Oliva  

Yeah!

 

Jared Speight  

And just build from that. And even…

 

Kristi Oliva  

Like case studies, nice. 

 

Jared Speight  

It's wonderful. Yeah.

 

Kristi Oliva  

Yeah. Again, have you ever heard of the website Go Design something? That's a great way for people, too, if they can't come up with a concept because that is a big barrier to entry. I think when people get that deer in the headlights of like, "Well, I don't know. What do I make a course about? I'm so stuck." So if you go to, https://godesignsomething.co/ and basically, it's just a generator. It'll generate ideas for you, and will really take the guesswork out of that. So, yeah, super fun. Okay, so tell us more about the actual role you're in right now. I don't know if you're free to share, like where you work or anything like that but I know one of the questions I always get is, what's the day-to-day? So I know, there's no typical day, which is what makes it so fun but just tell us what you do every day. 

 

Jared Speight  

So, I actually just started a new role last month, and I'm an Instructional Design Specialist for the Mayo Clinic, which is incredible. Something that I wouldn't have thought that I’d been able to do at this point in my career. I'm working with a great team, and on a day-to-day basis, there's a variety of stuff that we can do, which is what I love about instructional design. Right now, I'm working on projects, Storyline, Camtasia, and Vyond, and I've even got a little graphic design project kind of on the side going right now. So that's just nice because Storyline is wonderful, but it can kind of fry your brain if you're doing it for too long, too many hours in a day. So I can start with that and then kind of shift to something that isn't as intellectually demanding, right, a graphic design piece or editing a video and Vyond and that's an incredibly useful tool that has a lot of features that kind of does things for you. So, as long as you're making the deadlines and you're meeting the expectations on your projects, you can kind of pick your own schedule and determine what you want to do. That's much better than teaching.

 

Kristi Oliva  

I love that, too. So, on that note, somebody asked me actually, just this morning, I met with a client, and she was asking me, "Don't you miss the summers off," and I get that question so often, I have a whole podcast episode about it. I've written about it so many times but how would you talk to somebody about that? I know my answer, but do you miss having that big chunk of time, the big chunk of spring break? Like how do you make peace with that?

 

Jared Speight  

Honestly, I never taught at a year-round school. So maybe I'm speaking out of ignorance here, but I always liked the idea of having more frequent shorter breaks because summer was long, but I also always had to work a summer job because teaching in North Carolina doesn't pay very well. So I'm not really missing a summer break because I never really had a full summer break. I was working at pools…

 

Kristi Oliva  

Yep!

 

Jared Speight  

I was doing side jobs and teaching classes for the community college. So there's not really anything there to miss, I don't think. I'm also finding I don't need a break as much as I used to. 

 

Kristi Oliva  

Yeah, I think that's a big part of it, and one of the things, how I described is as a teacher, you didn't get to pick when your breaks were either, and now, I can just say I am just burnt out or overwhelmed. I just need a day off even and as a teacher, we all know how annoying, frustrating, and not fun it was to even take one day off; all the preparation and the cleanup afterward. So I think that anticipation makes it feel like you need it as a teacher but being out of teaching, being able to choose when my vacations are, and taking a day off here and there whenever I need to. It makes it where I no longer do that countdown of, okay, I can make it- it only two more weeks till summer or whatever. Now I'm just like, if I'm feeling that feeling I just take a day off, and then I feel better. So, I think it evens out in a lot of ways. You're right.

 

Jared Speight  

And I think a lot of teachers, we're not working 40 hours a week, you're working 50-60. If you're coaching and leading clubs. 

 

Kristi Oliva  

Yep!

 

Jared Speight  

It's more than that… So if you were to factor out how many hours you work in a year, and you're actually working 40 hours in a corporate setting, it's probably less than what you're used to on an annual basis. 

 

Kristi Oliva  

Yeah, and like you said, there are ebbs and flows too. There'll be times where maybe you do have to work the full 40 hours or a little bit more because you have a deadline but then I don't know about you, but I've got dead periods, or sometimes it's a four-hour day, because you know, my projects are slow and so because I worked really hard during our launch period, they expect that I might not be working a full day on these other times, because it's our slow time. It's our time to regroup and that provides a lot of value too, that I don't think you ever get as a teacher because you're constantly on as a teacher. There's no relaxed day, where you get to just chill, that doesn't happen. Okay, so we went through your typical day. Can you tell us what would you say if you only had to pick three skills that you took from teaching and are serving you well, in your role now? What are those top three skills?

 

Jared Speight  

That's a hard question and actually, a lot of teachers asked me something similar to this and I think it's difficult because we're not a monolith, right? Things that made me a good teacher, were not the same things that made you a good teacher. So the skills that I transferred may not be the same ones you do. So I think part of it is really taking time to analyze what an instructional designer does, and if that really is a good fit for you, because some teachers would be terrible instructional designers, but they would be incredible project managers for a number of other things. But I guess for me, curiosity, and a love of learning was essential. I always loved learning the content that I was teaching my students and the nice thing about instructional design is you're not supposed to be the subject matter expert. So I'm working with people who are experts in different things, and I'm learning from them and that's nice. So that kind of satisfies the curiosity. Knowing how to deliver good instruction would be another one. I know that we call it different things when you're talking about adult learning and kid learning but Paul Andragogy is all you want. Good learning is good learning, good instruction is good instruction and if you can make it relevant and tie it to their interest and experiences that works for people regardless of their age. And then I think empathy would probably be the third; trying to put yourself as a teacher in your students' shoes and figuring out what you can do to help them understand. I think that's essential for an instructional designer because in that needs analysis stage you're trying to figure out who your learner is, and what skill sets they have. It's the same kind of thing that you're doing in your lesson planning, so try to put yourself in the learner's shoes and build something that will be meaningful and help them out from there.

 

Kristi Oliva  

I love what you said because I ask everybody on the podcast that question, and everybody has a different answer, which I think goes to prove what you said; that a teacher has such a wide variety of skills that you can't just say, "Oh, teachers make good project managers. Teachers make good instructional designers." Which they do, but not every teacher does, because every teacher has a different skill set that makes them a good teacher and so they need to find their specific skill set and which role does that transfer to. So thank you for saying that. Just because you make a good instructional designer, and I made a good instructional designer, every teacher won't and so that doesn't mean that they're a failure, it just means that's not the role that their skill set fits best with. So I think that's a really important thing to say.

 

Jared Speight  

On LinkedIn, I see a lot of teachers making posts like "Hire a teacher, we're good at X," and I know that the intention is good behind that but I think you're kind of working against yourself, because you don't want a company to hire a teacher, you want a company to hire you. 

 

Kristi Oliva  

Yeah. 

 

Jared Speight  

And you can help teachers more whenever you're on the other side of that desk. So figuring out what things made you a good teacher will make you great, whatever it is you're going for and then building from there. 

 

Kristi Oliva  

Yeah, teaching is such a special role and I hate the hashtag #transitioningteacher even though I use it in my posts because you don't see anybody else with that hashtag. You don't see #transitioningnurse #transitioning with anything in there. Nobody does that. Why is the teaching role called out so harshly, I will say, and heavily for their transition journey whenever anyone else is just a career changer or, you know, making a career change? And it kind of bothers me a little bit because it reinforces this stigma of teachers need to stay teachers. So I think that it's super valuable, what you've shared here that, you know, there is such a vast skill set, and you just need to find what works for you, but you have a lot of options. So, I know that a lot of people are gonna want to reach out to and find out more about instructional design, like how you were able to do that, probably the group that you mentioned. So what's the best way for people to reach out to you and ask you questions and connect?

 

Jared Speight 

Gotcha. I do have a website—it's just https://www.jaredspeight.com/. But the best way to get in touch with me is probably LinkedIn. From LinkedIn, you can find me on GLDC, which is a group I mentioned. Over the summer, I actually host a group called the Summer Break Room just because I like wordplay.

 

Kristi Oliva  

Oh, how fun!

 

Jared Speight  

And summer break and breaking but it's for teachers who are starting to transition into instructional design and it's certainly not to the level where it would replace a boot camp but it kind of harkens you back to the days when I first started my job search and what I wish I knew then. So what is ADDIE? What are some of these basics? How do you set up your LinkedIn profile? Should you even touch your resume until you have a portfolio? When to start applying. Those kinds of things. So that'll be starting up in June and you can find me there as well.

 

Kristi Oliva  

Awesome. Well, thanks for joining, Jared. I really appreciate your time and sharing your journey. It's funny to hear how similar our journeys were but I really just appreciate your support of teachers and the work you're doing there and for joining us on the podcast. So thank you. 

 

Kristi Oliva  

Do you want to leave the classroom but you're not sure where to start? Well, you can start by signing up for Teacher Ditch Day at idolourses.com/teacherditchday and find the path that is right for you. We are going to have multiple former teachers in roles like instructional design, sales, wellness, and finance. We've got so many. So come join us at idolcourses.com/teacherditchday. It's time to take control and make the career change that will change your life. It changed mine. See you next time. 

 

Kristi Oliva  

That's all for this episode, but you can find more at idolcourses.com or subscribe to the podcast. If you are ready to leave the classroom, use my code: CLASSROOM100 And get $100 off enrollment to IDOL courses Academy.

  

Send your stories or questions to [email protected] or share them with me on Instagram @leavingtheclassroom.