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#136: How to Navigate a Career Change in Online Education

#136: How to Navigate a Career Change in Online Education

This post initially appeared at https://apuedge.com/how-to-navigate-a-career-change-in-online-education/.

Podcast with Dr. Bethanie L. HansenAssociate Dean (interim), School of Arts, Humanities and Education

Is it time for you to change jobs or start a new career? In this episode, Dr. Bethanie Hansen shares tips to help with the transition. Learn why it’s important to craft a strong narrative about your career, build a strong network and be prepared to negotiate.

Listen to the Episode:

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Read the Transcript:

Dr. Bethanie Hansen: This podcast is for educators, academics and parents who know that online teaching can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding, engaging and fun! Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge. I’m your host, Dr. Bethanie Hansen, and I’ll be your guide for online teaching tips, topics and strategies. Walk with me into the Online Teaching Lounge.

Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge. This is Bethanie Hansen, your host, and I’m really happy to talk with you today about the potential for changing careers in your online teaching journey. Now, a career change could be a minor thing. It could be, you’re just changing jobs, perhaps you work at one school, and you’d like to work at another. Or maybe the career change is actually in a new direction. Perhaps you’ve been teaching in a face-to-face classroom, and then you’ve had an adjunct role teaching one class at a time online, but maybe you want to just expand that.

Maybe you want to go full time in an online capacity. That does feel like quite a bit of a change, doesn’t it? Maybe you want to leave teaching altogether and go into higher education leadership, or educational administration in the K-12 system. Perhaps you’re leaving the standard classroom and you’re becoming a virtual coach, trainer or consultant.

Whatever type of career change you are contemplating, changing careers can be a challenge. I have changed careers myself several times. And these changes have been interesting, they have been difficult, and in my experience, they have also involved a little bit of identity consideration. For example, when I made my first career change, I was leaving a role of, where I thought, I was a band director.

My job title was band teacher. But we in the band-directing field, when we’re running the entire program, we’re doing a lot of fundraising, we have parent groups and all of those things along the way, we would call that more of band director role versus just teaching. So, I was leaving this role of being a band director, and becoming a 100% online teacher in higher education. That role change involved an identity shift in my mind. I had to stop calling myself a band director, and I had to stop referring to myself as a band director. And a lot of people who knew me did not understand what online teaching was all about, or what I did for a living.

In fact, they kind of didn’t ask about it at all once I told them what I was doing, because they just didn’t understand it. They didn’t relate to that. Now that online education has been around a while, and it has developed into something that is spoken of in the general population, the general public, a career in online education is not as far of a reach if you’re telling someone else about it. Either way, I’m going to give you some steps today that will help you out if you’re thinking about changing careers, either into or out of online education.

Considerations When You’re Changing Careers

The first thing to consider when you’re changing careers is your narrative. The narrative of your career change is really the story behind that career change. One place where we tell that story is a profile network like LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a virtual platform where you have almost a virtual version of a resume. You have a space where you have some paragraphs that summarize who you are, what you’re all about. You also have your jobs listed, what some of the key things were you did in those jobs, what dates they were, where you worked. And you can also provide links to any articles you’ve written, presentations you’ve made, podcasts you’ve hosted, and more. You can add a lot of those things and share them with a network of people that you’re hoping to connect with more fully.

LinkedIn does have jobs posted, and many companies are doing this now, many educational entities also are. So, when you post yourself on LinkedIn, and you really work on your story behind your career change there, and the story of where you’re headed, this can be a helpful place to go.

Develop a Narrative about Your Career Change

One thing to think about in your narrative is why you’re changing careers. You can say it succinctly and diplomatically. That story of why you’re changing careers really never includes the negative judgments you might have made about a prior boss or a prior situation or employer. When you’re telling this story, succinctly and diplomatically as I mentioned, one thing would be to talk about the direction you are growing. The experiences you’ve had in the past and how you’ve learned from them, and now you’re pivoting in a new direction. And what some of those common threads are.

In literature, we call that the “red thread” of your story. So, in my band-directing career, I was helping people grow and develop and transform into adulthood. They were learning musical skills, leadership skills, self-management, all kinds of things. And as I moved into higher education, I was still working on those very same core things. And in my part-time coaching work with people, I also work on helping them develop and change and transform in their direction. So, that thread for me is very consistent, even though the subject matter or the way I played it out has changed over time.

Another thing that you can include in your narrative of your career change would be what transformative skills you bring that are relevant to a new role you’re seeking. For example, if you have primarily taught face to face, and you’re actually just hoping to move into full time online work, you can talk about all of the different methods you have used to communicate with your stakeholders in that face-to-face environment.

If you have led, or attended or developed webinars for people, or presented live, synchronous classes through a virtual mode, like Zoom or something like that, those would be skills that you can bring that are relevant to the new role you’re seeking of being online.

And then, of course, there are past paid and unpaid experiences that might directly relate to the new role you’re hoping to get. And you can talk about those, write about those, list them on your LinkedIn profile and on your resume, and include those in your narrative.

What are the Positive Aspects of Your Career Change?

Something else to consider is how change is positive for you and your fulfillment. In the direction you’re hoping to go, think about what positive aspects of that change will bring into your life. What is good about that change? What are the benefits you’re seeking and hoping for? And how have you been preparing for those very benefits and positives, and seeking them out now and not just waiting for the future change?

For example, if one of the reasons you want to teach online 100% of the time is that you love to travel and you love the flexibility, you could be thinking about how you’ve already been using some flexibility in your current work schedule to fulfill your travel desires, and not just how you’re waiting for the future to play out. So, how is the change is going to be positive for you, and how are you already seeking it and getting some of that?

Omit Details that Don’t Contribute to Your New Direction

Leave out extra details that don’t help you in the direction you’re trying to go. I’ve seen some people write 50-page vitas or resumes that document every job they’ve ever had, every class they’ve ever taught, everywhere they’ve ever been. And a new employer hoping to hire you doesn’t know how to navigate that narrative on their own. So, include the things that tell the story that is important for your career change, and summarize those things that are not, or leave them out altogether. It’s okay to not include every single job you’ve ever had. But you definitely want to include the ones that are relevant and that do pave the way for the direction you’re headed.

You can think about this as a story arc. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end to your professional story. And the way you introduce it could be something that you’ve done or thought about or learned about or experienced in your life that ignited your passion for where you’re headed right now. And places along the way where you got a little bit more experience or insight or direction. And, in the future, you’re going to have that good resolution of being able to fulfill that direction you’re hoping to go.

I would like to recommend also imagining beyond open opportunities. The world we live in has a lot of career options available that are literally invented around a candidate. Not every job exists right now that you could be qualified for, and it’s possible you’ll be able to negotiate something that will build your dream job in the future.

So, that first part of changing careers is to think about the narrative and the story that you’re telling about your professional direction and your past, and all the skills you’re bringing with you. The second tip today about navigating your online career change is to build a network.

Build a Strong Network

Networking is sort of a buzzword in job seeking. Networking is connecting with other people and offering them something while you’re gaining something from them as well. It’s sort of like mutual relationship building. If you have an opportunity to connect with people in your field, you can always ask for advice and receive advice and give advice. It builds trust with other people when you share what you know and what you think, within reason.

Realize what you don’t know. Think about that future online job or that future job away from online, if that’s the direction you’re moving, and what role you would like to fill, what functions it might include and the industry in which that role takes place. And when you realize what you don’t know about that, now you have some questions to ask others.

Learn about how you can fill those knowledge gaps. Are you going to learn something through an online class or workshop? Will you go to a conference or join an organization? Whatever direction you go, you want to dive in. Really get to know people in that space and participate fully so those knowledge gaps will get filled. And you’ll build a new network along the way.

You can explore what the new role would really ask of you day in and day out, and that can happen by talking to those people in the industry, or in the role, and develop your narrative skills. You’ll be talking a lot when you try to build your network. And you’ll talk about where you’ve been, why you want to change, what you’re working on right now to move you in that new direction. And you’ll build a lot of opportunity to talk about your story, your career-change story.

Get Specific about What You Want to Do in Your Career Change

The third tip for navigating your career change will be to narrow, get specific about what you really want to do. For example, at one time, I was thinking about how I did a lot of recruiting and retention as a band director, and in online education, as a leader, we talk a lot about recruiting and retention, so I’m thinking about it a lot.

And in the future where I want to continue to support, strengthen, and develop educators, I would say something like, “I’m looking to do teacher retention work in higher education. I’m going to draw on my skills in coaching, managing and leading others. And the wellbeing training I gained as a coach to help manage and lead online faculty forward in better ways. I want to help people stay in this profession. And I want people to grow in this profession, so I’m prepared to do that.”

So, if I’m getting super specific about what I want to do, I would be saying that I’m looking to do teacher retention work in higher education. And I can give all those details that I just mentioned along the way.

Be Prepared to Negotiate and Compromise

The fourth step in your career change story would be to negotiate. You might have to compromise to achieve the career direction change that you want. If it’s a big change, that might mean accepting a lower salary than the current role you’re filling, until you’re able to gain new skills and move back up. You might lose seniority that you have in your current organization. You might also lose some of the flexibility you currently like. And, especially, if you’re working online right now and you’re moving into a not online position, definitely the flexibility will be something to be thinking about.

Or maybe there are other perks. Perhaps your employer supports you attending conferences and doing a lot of travel, and you won’t be able to do that in the future. That’s a perk you might lose. You can’t keep all the same benefits and perks if you’re changing industries, making a major change, like from K-12 education to higher education or from the higher education to the business industry, or something like that. You won’t have the tested skills that someone who’s been in that field their entire career has.

So, you will need to be a little bit more realistic about the value you’re going to create early in the path, as well as your potential to grow and develop and eventually demonstrate solid skills as an expert in that direction. Can you set aside money now, to make up the difference if you have to have a salary reduction? Can you move up to regain the title and direction you’re going in right now eventually in the new direction? Are there some perks you can let go of right now that you can live without for the rest of your career? Or can you get these perks some other way? Is there something else that will lead to what you want?

If you cannot make that career change right now, anything that you can do to change your existing role to enhance it or bring in more of what you’re looking for, will help you through the process of job crafting. Or you may also be able to gain more fulfillment from hobbies, a side gig, or some volunteer work.

If you’re really intentional about your career change, a thoughtful planning period and a lot of research and some careful narrative crafting of your actual experience, as well as building your network and being realistic about a potential change will bring you the most fulfillment. It’s going to bring you more purpose, and better engagement throughout the process.

I’ve been through several career changes myself, and I know you can have a really positive outcome when you put the time in that it takes to be diligent in your efforts and also think about where you really want to go. I wish you all the best in that pursuit, it can be a tough one. But, again, you can find that fulfillment throughout the future, as you are looking for what you really want, and doing the work it takes to make that change and get there.

And, ultimately, as I’ve said before, if you’re not able to make that change right now, you can consider job crafting your current role, or gaining additional fulfillment from outside activities. Thanks for being here in the Online Teaching Lounge today as we’re talking about navigating an online career change. And I wish you all the best in the next step on that journey, if that’s where you’re headed.

This is Dr. Bethanie Hansen, your host for the Online Teaching Lounge Podcast. To share comments and requests for future episodes, please visit BethanieHansen.com/request. Best wishes this coming week in your online teaching journey.

#125: Three Steps to a Great Online Teaching Routine

This content first appeared on APUEdge.com.

Podcast with Dr. Bethanie L. HansenAssociate Dean (Interim), School of Arts, Humanities and Education 

Teaching online can be time consuming and seep into instructors’ personal time. In this episode, APU’s Dr. Bethanie Hansen provides insight into how to plan a strong work routine. Learn about the importance of surveying your workload ahead of time, writing it down and tracking it, and reflecting and adapting to improve your time management.

Listen to the Episode:

Subscribe to Online Teaching Lounge
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | Pandora

Read the Transcript:

Bethanie Hansen: This podcast is for educators, academics, and parents, who know that online teaching can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding, engaging, and fun! Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge. I’m your host, Dr. Bethanie Hansen. And I’ll be your guide for online teaching tips, topics, and strategies. Walk with me into the Online Teaching Lounge.

Thank you for joining me here today on the Online Teaching Lounge podcast. I’m very excited to share with you some ideas to help you plan your online teaching routine. If you’ve taught online before, you already know this can expand to fill every inch of available time. It can become something that takes more and more time all the time, because there is so much more we can do when we’re working online.

The other reason this can expand to fill all of our space is that when we teach online, many times we succumb to interruptions and diversions and other courses of action. So, we might be in the middle of writing discussion responses to our students when a child comes in and wants our attention. So, we’ll get up and go attend to that. And then a lot of time has passed. And when we get back in the room to do more of our online teaching, we’ve lost our train of thought. We have to back up and get started all over again. Examples like this, and many others, are very much reality for all of us who teach online.

Even though my children are fully grown, and they’re not going to walk into the room and ask for my attention while I’m teaching, I do know exactly what it’s like because I’ve been there. And in my experience, planning ahead and sticking to that plan can help everyone function better while you’re an online educator, and expect when you’ll be free, and spend time with you later.

So, today, I’m going to share three tips with you for some good planning of your routine when you’re teaching and working online. And those are to survey ahead of time, write it down, and reflect and adapt, no matter what.

Survey Your Activities and Needs

So, we start out with surveying, and surveying is simply looking ahead to see what our tasks are going to be and how long they’re going to take. I know, we don’t always know exactly how much time it’s going to take. But we can give it our best guesstimate.

For example, if we’re going to grade papers, and we have some kind of estimate about how long it takes to grade an essay, then we can look at how many papers we could logically expect to grade that week and divide it up over how much time. And pretty soon, we know exactly how much time we need to spend.

Perhaps we’re going to plan ahead to do it all in one day. Or we’re going to break it up to do over several days. But it involves surveying and looking ahead in a way that I’ve heard of called pragmatic prospection. I know, that’s a little bit of a mouthful. But pragmatic prospection is about being practical. And looking ahead.

The pragmatic part is, “What’s it really going to look like?” Am I really going to read a lot of messages from students? Am I going to answer a lot of questions? Will I need to make some kind of asset, like a video or a handout to post in my class? Will I have a lot of things to grade? How much do I expect to engage in that discussion?

And as I’m looking pragmatically about the realities of my particular online course, I’m also looking ahead. That’s the prospection part. I’m thinking, “What do I want that to look like?”

What does the quality of my comment need to be? What do I really want to invest for it to be good quality, but not take up more and more and more time? So, as you’re looking ahead, you can start to envision what the workload is going to look like, what you’re going to need to do, and what the rest of your life will be like when you’re teaching that online course.

As part of doing this habit of surveying, or looking ahead to the different types of tasks and the time it’s going to take, don’t forget to include all of the things that you do outside of work. So, we’re going to look at the online teaching first and write it down and think about it. And then we’re going to look at the rest of our life.

If there’s some kind of family obligation happening, I want to be able to plan for that. And so, I want to set aside the time for those things as well. And maybe I need to prepare for that by going shopping or calling some of my relatives, getting some of that done. So, I’m surveying all that I need to do. And I’m thinking ahead. I might also be surveying what it’s going to look like when I’m doing some grocery shopping, if that falls on me this week, and if I’m doing any household chores, and how much rest I want, and all of those sorts of things.

So, the survey is kind of like an overview, where I’m just thinking through my day, and my week, and I’m thinking about what it needs to look like, what it’s got to include, and where I want to be at the end of the week.

Write it Down and Schedule Your Time

Step two is to write it all down. Now after I’ve taken the initial survey, I’m going to start writing down the actual plan.

When we’re taking the time to write things down that we’re working on, like a calendaring habit or a schedule for online teaching, the goal is to realistically write down exactly what is expected to happen. And, yes, that might be painstakingly writing every 15 to 20 minutes of activity, and then tracking it while you’re doing it. So, not only will you write down what you expect to do, you want to make little notes about when you had to modify, spend more time than expected, or spend less.

Writing it down is going to help you realize how much time you actually spend in your online teaching. And that will also help you know if you are over anticipating how much time it will spend, or under budgeting the time. Writing it down could be every single day for a week, and then reassess. Or it could be every day for an ongoing duration. You have to decide what will work best for you in terms of tracking this, but the goal is that once you write it down ahead of time, that you stick with that schedule, no matter what.

I don’t know about you, but many times in my experience, I will sit down and think about grading some essays. And sometimes my mind will just be not very focused for grading essays. And I’ll think, “You know, I’m going to do something else. And I’ll come back to this in a little while when I’m a little bit more focused for that.”

And in doing this plan, the way I’m suggesting today, surveying ahead of time, writing it down, scheduling your time in advance, and then reflecting afterwards, we have to stick to that plan to know if it’s going to work. So, if I’m going to approach it from a mindset of not really being focused and wanting to delay the work that I’ve planned for myself, I’m going to have to do something to get myself in a mental frame of mind to do the work, not just when I’m in the mood to do the work.

So, if that’s your experience, I want to suggest thinking about a time when you were focused on doing that work, and figuring out what it’s going to take to get your brain back in gear in the moment that you need to do it now. So, whatever it takes to help you reframe your mental energy, and your focus and concentration, you can kind of play with that and try a lot of different approaches to help yourself get back in the game, and do the thing that you wrote down that you would do.

Reflect on Your Time, and Adapt as Needed

And then step three, this is reflect and adapt. Looking back on the week, we’re going to look over what worked and what didn’t work. Were there some things that took a lot of mental energy that were hard to do late in the day? Do they need to be scheduled earlier in the day? Did something take a lot longer and need to be scheduled for a longer duration with breaks in the middle?

As you’re reflecting on what works and what didn’t work in planning your routine, you’re going to get better and better at planning your online teaching routine. Reflection isn’t just about what didn’t work, it’s also about what did work. If you notice that certain tasks go really well together, make a note of that, and notice it so that you can plan it ahead and do it again next time.

Adapting means that you’re going to take the plans you made this week, and you’re going to change them a little bit based on what your reflection has turned up. If, when you’re reflecting, you happen to notice that something was really hard to do at a certain time of day, adapting would mean you’re going to do it differently next time.

And maybe instead of a specific task, and maybe you want to give yourself a choice between two certain tasks at one time of day and the same two tasks later in the day. Whichever one seems most challenging, do it first when your mental energy is at its best. And then you can come to the easier one later when that same window of time comes around.

As you’re reflecting, celebrate some of the growth and achievement that you’ve attained. If grading essays or posting in discussions is particularly troublesome for you, if it takes a lot of time and energy, but you were able to get it a little faster, or streamline it a little bit, maybe you could celebrate that success and notice what’s going really well.

And then the other thing to celebrate is if you really did make yourself stick to the plan you made. When you write your schedule and you stick to it no matter what, even if you’re not in the mood, you can celebrate that afterward because you pushed through that mental challenge or that energy-level challenge.

Another tip about all three of these things, surveying, writing it down, reflecting and adapting. These steps can be used with family members, if you have family members living in the home with you. You could share your planned schedule and ask for their input. Is there anything that they suggest adding to your work schedule that maybe you didn’t notice that you spend time on? Or is there something in your family and personal life that they’d like to make sure goes on your calendar at a certain day and time?

All of those suggestions and ideas can be really useful to you in getting a very realistic sense of what your routine should be like when you’re working and teaching online. And, of course, when you’re reflecting on the week and deciding what did work for you, you can also run that by family members, or those people that live with you, and ask them for input in that case as well. Maybe they will have noticed that certain things worked really well and certain things need to change.

Anytime you write up a schedule, and you’re really trying to stick to it, it also helps to post that schedule, so other people know exactly what to expect and when you’re going to be available. If they want to spend time with you in the middle of the day and they’re used to interrupting you, but now you’re going to take a break at a certain set time, they’re more likely to leave you alone until that time, when they know when it’s coming up and what exactly they can expect. So, share that information with your family members or people who live with you.

And I say “people who live with you” because not everyone is living with a spouse and children. Some of you may have roommates. Or you may live with other extended family members, whoever is important to you in your life. Include them in your planning, and the survey of all that is involved in your online teaching time, and all the things that are important in your life outside of that. And get their help when you’re reflecting. The more eyes you get on your plan, the more refined it’s going to be. And the better it’ll be.

Wrapping it up today, I want to just share my own experience planning the routine and sticking to it. Whenever I do this, and I share it with my family members, it’s so much easier for me to have a rewarding life, in my workday and outside of it. My family members are ready to spend time with me and really excited to see me at the end of the day. And also, they know what they can expect when I’m working. And they know what my schedule is. It’s super helpful to me to plan it ahead of time and also to communicate out.

And, on the flip side, when I failed to do that, and I’m trying to get it going, I might start and stop two or three different tasks without completing any of them. If I’m not aware of what I need to do and what my timeline is. And pretty soon my work is going to fill up all of the available time, including the family time after work. So, I know firsthand from experience how important it is to plan and keep track of the time spent.

It can also help me feel really great about all that I accomplished during the workday and realize that I really did get a lot done, and I contributed to my students and all of the other people that I’m working with. I hope you’ll try this out, doing the survey, writing it down, then reflecting and adapting and see what works for you. Let’s get some input. There’s a form on bethaniehansen.com/request where you can share your experience and let us know what works in terms of scheduling your online teaching, and what doesn’t. Stop by and give us a note.

If this podcast has been valuable to you, and you enjoy what you hear, share it with your colleagues. We would love to extend our audience and also help other people teach well online. There’s so much we can do to improve our practice and make this a better experience for everyone. Thanks again for being here and best wishes in your online teaching this coming week.

This is Dr. Bethanie Hansen, your host for the Online Teaching Lounge podcast. To share comments and requests for future episodes, please visit bethaniehansen.com/request. Best wishes this coming week in your online teaching journey.

#19: Eating Healthy and Working Online

#19: Eating Healthy and Working Online

Is it possible to balance eating healthy and working online? In today’s podcast, I’ll share ideas about this challenge.

In my own online work, living with healthy habits was difficult. I struggled for years without effective strategies.

Eventually, I adopted new habits. Then, I lost 95 pounds while still working online.

Yes, it’s possible to develop healthy eating habits as an online teacher. Strategy, planning, and timing can help!