Download Brochure

Elevate your instructional design expertise with our blogs.

Stay ahead with industry news and discover valuable tips and tricks on the IDOL Blog.

Leaving the Classroom Episode 4: Top Transferable Teacher Skills

#careertransition #leaving the classroom podcast #leavingtheclassroom #teacherskills #transferableteacherskills Mar 28, 2023

Leaving the Classroom: A Transitioning Teacher Podcast

Top Transferable Teacher Skills 

Today I’m reviewing the skills that are directly transferable from teaching to instructional design. And there are a lot of them!

I am sure you have heard the saying, Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.

This comes from a stage play in 1905 by George Bernard Shaw called Man and Superman. It is a terrible mindset that teaching is a place for those who can’t make it in “the real world”.

I heard this so often in the later years of high school and all throughout college as I prepared to become a teacher. It made me question my choice many times. And it is perpetuated over and over as teachers are continued to be portrayed as lesser than most other professional positions.

But the truth is, teachers are super prepared for so many other roles, especially instructional design.

Listen to the episode here:

 Connect with Kristi on LinkedIn 

Enjoy the podcast transcription:  

Hello and welcome back to leaving the classroom. I'm Kristi Oliva. Today I'm reviewing the skills that are directly transferable from teaching to instructional design. And believe me, there are a lot of them, we won't even be able to cover all of them today.

Have any of you heard the saying those who can do, those who can't teach? Burns me up just saying that out loud. This comes from a stage play in 1905 by George Bernard Shaw called man and Superman, all the man written by a man titles got the man in it. It's a terrible mindset that teaching is a place for those who can't make it in the real world with a real profession. And I heard this so often in the later years of high school and all throughout college, as I prepare to become a teacher, it honestly even made me question my choice many times, and it is perpetuated over and over as teachers are continued to be portrayed as lesser than most other professional positions. But the truth is, teachers are super prepared for so many other roles. That's what we're talking about today. Transferable teacher skills. 

So the first transferable skill for teachers is knowledge of learning theory, to move into instructional design, you have to be well versed in learning theory. Now, they call it adult learning theory. But I have to be honest, that many of the ideas that are taught to you as a K 12 educator going through college still apply to teaching adults. So in order to transfer that skill, you just need to apply it to adults, and it will apply.

The next one is speaking in front of large groups. We do it every day as teachers, right 30 plus, of some of the most skeptical groups of people that you'll ever encounter, which are for me, it was middle schoolers. I mean, I had to get to know that a lot of times nothing I was saying was something that they wanted to hear or that they even cared about, I had to make them care. And that's really important. But also every year, I don't know about you. But every year right before that first day that first time I met my students, I would get those crazy butterflies. And that's what most people encounter when they go to speak in front of large groups. So being able to manage that and still go up and basically perform every day in front of these students is a skill. And it's transferable to instructional design, whether you become a trainer, or an instructional designer or elearning developer, you are going to have to present your ideas in front of a group of people. And you already know how to do that you know how to manage those butterflies, get through them, and still get your point across.

The next skill that's directly transferable to instructional design is time management. Now, most of the time, as an instructional designer, you will have multiple projects, sometimes many times that are not exactly the same type of project, guess what you are doing that as a teacher, whether or not you're teaching multiple subjects, or just multiple groups of kids that are quite different. You are having to manage that time and get the most out of your time with those learners. So as I plan my projects, and determine the deadlines and such, I'm having to manage my time, all the time. Time, time time. Okay. And the same is true in teaching, you have to be able to harness the lesson that you plan for that day into a certain period of time. And you're having to manage all the state standards within a certain amount of time, you have to make those give and takes a lot of decisions on what's going to be the most important to teach. These are all time management techniques that you are using on a daily basis and transfer directly over to the corporate instructional design space. All right, the next one is a pretty good one, driving in chaos or ambiguity. I mean, that's really what teaching is right? If you can manage yourself in chaos and not knowing what's going to happen next, your probably a teacher. Well, this happens in corporate sometimes, too. I mean, right now the company I work for things change constantly, day to day, minute to minute, sometimes I have to drop a project and immediately move into something that's a lot more important because it got moved up on my list. So I use a lot of the skills that I gained, practicing teaching in my corporate career, because I'm able to just pivot both that word pivot, but we are able to pivot and just move on to the most important task for that moment. And you do that as teachers, it transfers to corporate. It's a different kind of chaos, but it's still there. And it's a different kind of ambiguity, but it's still there, you already know how to do this.

Okay, next up is creative problem solving. I mean, this one seems to speak pretty much for itself, but as a teacher, not only with difficult students, difficult parents, oh, preach, right? Difficult admin, all the difficulties that you're having to deal with as a teacher, you have to come up with some problem solving solutions for that. And a lot of times you're having to think outside the box, and there is no cheat sheet that's going to help you come up with with an idea to get through that problem. Well, in corporate, you are having to creatively problem solve all the time. And honestly, coming to corporate from teaching, I was complimented on this so often, that I came to the table with an outside perspective, that many of the people who had spent their entire careers in corporate never thought about. And so I really want to encourage you teachers that you are coming to corporate with some skills and some ideas that people who have been working in corporate for a long time, they just would never think of because you're coming from a different place, a different type of career. All right, creative problem solving.

Next up is efficient with time and resources. Now, we've already talked about time management. But really efficiency with that time is so important. Again, when I am managing multiple projects in my corporate career, it reminds me a lot of managing all the subjects I taught or managing all the students I taught. A lot of times in class, there were students that were in all different levels. When I taught ELA, I had eighth graders that were reading at second grade level and eighth graders that were reading at 10th grade level. Now, in order to maximize my time and resources, I had to be very efficient. And we can go back to this some of the other skills I had to creatively problem solve, and have to work with what I had. So being efficient with my resources as well, was quite important. We were not always given everything we needed in order to serve each of those students. In fact, I never was, right. All of you know what I'm talking about. So I had to be efficient with my time and resources. And I use that on a daily basis in my corporate career.

Now, the last one is my actual job title, program manager. Program management may not seem like something that teachers are doing. But guess what you are, you manage a team, let's call your students, your team, because you are managing them just like you would employees that have this background at home, they have other things going on in their lives that you need to keep in mind. But you also are dealing with these undeveloped minds, which adds another layer of difficulty to all of this. How does that lead into program management? Well, when I'm managing all the different programs that I have to right now, I'm managing a big program with five smaller projects within it. But those are still all on different timelines, all dealing with different sets of people. And I have to keep track of all that. As a teacher, if you're teaching multiple subjects, you have to keep track of where you are. In each of those projects, let's call them or each of those programs. Each subject has its own program. Each class has its own program. And you might be in different stages of development of each of those programs. You're also having to document everything that goes on with each of those subjects or classes, whether it be with grades, or communication with parents and administration, you are having to manage that program all at different speeds times and with different types of communication. Program Management, so important. And I know so many teachers who have transitioned into instructional design who are thriving because of these exact skills. Now, with all of this in mind, I think we need to change the narrative. Because the same should actually be those who can do it all. Teach. Bam.

I'd love to hear from you!

Send your stories or your questions to [email protected] or share them with me on Instagram  @leavingtheclassroom. This is Kristi Oliva. See you next time. That's all for this episode, but you can find more at or subscribe to the podcast. And if you are ready to leave the classroom, use my code CLASSROOM100 And get $100 off enrollment to IDOL courses Academy.