Last week, Scissortail was a proud sponsor of TLDC’s latest event, called The Road to Learning and Development: From Teaching to Instructional Design. It was a free three-day conference for transitioning teachers.
This post provides a recap of six expert tips the presenters shared for those looking to transition from teaching to learning and development (L&D). I also captured the resources shared throughout the event, which are listed at the end of the post.
If you registered for the event, you have access to the recordings by logging in with the link that was emailed to you. But if you didn’t register, don’t fret. TLDC has published the recordings!
Tip 1: Choose Your Path
As you begin your transition to L&D, it’s important to understand the options that are available to you. Many transitioning teachers zero in on instructional design because that’s what they hear about the most. But there’s much more to L&D than instructional design, as Connie Malamed discussed in her session, “What’s Possible: Creating Your Future in Instructional Design.” Her presentation included a long list of job titles within L&D, and she discussed the “eLearning Pie,” which groups L&D skills into four categories: learning, creativity, business, and technology. She discussed identifying your “talent stacks” that prepare you for various L&D roles.
Heidi Ranganathan’s session, “Translating Teacher to ID Terminology,” also discussed the various possibilities. Heidi advised teachers to narrow down the possibilities by identifying your strengths and the things you enjoy doing. She recommended asking yourself the following questions (originally shared by Heidi Kirby):
- What do you love about your current role?
- Which things do you NOT like?
- What does a day in the life of your dream job look like?
If the thing you love most about teaching is interacting with the learners, then you might not be happy in a behind-the-scenes role like instructional design. You could look into facilitation roles instead, or something like customer satisfaction. Asking yourself these questions can help ensure that you don’t invest time and money preparing yourself for the wrong career.
Tip 2: Learn the Lingo
One thing I found challenging when I was a transitioning teacher years ago was learning the terminology, especially the alphabet soup of L&D acronyms. This topic was mentioned in a few sessions. Sara Stevick explained many acronyms in her session on learning technologies. These acronyms (and others) are listed at the end of this post, but for a more in-depth explanation, view Sara’s session.
In Heidi Ranganathan’s session, Translating Teacher to ID Terminology, Heidi discussed how to translate your teaching experience and job responsibilities for L&D jobs. She presented several examples and provided a handout with some translations you can use on your resume. The handout is linked in the Resources section.
Be sure to follow Heidi’s advice not to lie on your resume by listing your title as “instructional designer” rather than “teacher.” Remember that potential employers may call previous employers to verify your title and job description.
As an additional caveat, be careful when translating your experience that you understand the terminology well so it accurately represents what you did. When in doubt, try to get someone who is currently working in L&D to review your resume to ensure that you are translating your experience appropriately. If you’re not sure whom to ask, see the “Build Your Network” section of this post.
If all the information in these sessions seems overwhelming, take note: you do NOT have to memorize all these terms right away. My advice is to closely review the job descriptions for the jobs you are applying to and become familiar with the terms they reference. Use them in your resume, cover letter, and portfolio. (BTW, many people are skipping a cover letter these days; however, I recommend including one to better introduce yourself and better highlight how your skills and experience match the organization’s needs.)
Tip 3: Shift Your Mindset
In Alison Sollar’s session, called “How to Show Your Skills: Resume and Portfolio Tips,” she highlighted the importance of your mindset during a job search. She shared several job descriptions and talked through an analysis of those jobs. She provided the following questions for transitioning teachers to consider when reviewing job descriptions:
- What is the focus of the skills they’re looking for in this role?
- How might a teacher’s skills transfer (or not) to this particular role?
- How does this role compare to other roles you have seen?
Sara Stevick’s first session focused on Learning Culture in L&D Compared to Education. She stressed the importance of understanding the business goals, learning culture, and learner motivations.
In Sara’s words, “if you want to have impact in a business space, you need to be of a business mindset.”
Another key takeaway from Sara’s session is the value of asking questions. Sometimes it can be difficult for us educators to remember that education and training aren’t always the answer. When we get a training request, we need to ask lots of questions to fully understand the problem. (Cathy Moore’s book, Map It, is an excellent resource for learning how to analyze training needs. A link is included in the Resources section at the end of this post.)
McKenzie Day also talked about shifting your mindset in her session, “Preparing for a Smooth Transition (While Still in the Classroom).” In her words, as you’re updating your resume, “you might be deleting bullet points that you’re really proud of.” But targeting your resume for the job you want, instead of the job you have, is really important.
Tip 4: Develop Your Skills
As I discussed in a previous TLDC event, transitioning teachers have many wonderful skills that make them well-suited for L&D work. But the transition does come with some upskilling. As you analyze job descriptions, make a list of the skills that companies are asking for that you will need to develop. Then seek out resources for learning those skills.
I always advise people to look at what’s available for free before spending money on a program. I’ve posted before about the plethora of free resources that are available. In the coming weeks, I’ll be organizing those resources to create more of a structured path, so stay tuned! In the meantime, be sure to check out these videos, which were mentioned in the sessions last week:
- Don’t Pay for an ID Academy Before You Watch This, by Cara North
- Finding the Right ID Academy, L&D Bootcamp, or Certification for You, by Heidi Kirby
One skill you can improve through watching the recordings from this event is creating performance-based learning objectives. In her session, Heidi Kirby discussed writing learning objectives using the three domains of Bloom’s taxonomy as well as Robert Mager’s ABCD method.
If you want to focus on technology in your L&D career, be sure to watch the recording of Sara Stevick’s session, Learning Technologies Beyond the LMS.
Tip 5: Get Interview-Ready
Landing a job in L&D requires being able to showcase your skills well in a resume and portfolio (if applying for instructional designer or eLearning developer roles).
McKenzie Day’s session provided many useful tips for transitioning teachers to get interview-ready while they’re still in the classroom. For example, take advantage of the opportunity to gather data you can use as metrics on your resume, such as the percentage of improvement on test scores after implementing a particular instructional strategy. You can also build your experience by developing other teachers’ skills, contracting on the side, or volunteering.
In her session, Alison Sollars presented resume and portfolio tips to help transitioning teachers show their skills. She reviewed various job descriptions and talked through what they meant and how to tailor your resume for those descriptions. She stressed the importance of that mindset shift discussed in Tip #3.
John Weber’s session, Interview Techniques and Tips for Transitioning L&D Professionals, discussed various types of interview questions you might encounter, as well as some red flags that may come up in interviews and questions you can ask at the end of the interview.
Tip 6: Build Your Network
One of the best things you can do to begin your L&D career is to build your network. Follow or connect with L&D professionals on LinkedIn and join L&D communities.
For transitioning teachers, the Teaching: A Path to L&D community is always my first recommendation. Sara Stevick has built a wonderful community, and the volunteers there offer amazingly helpful services, including mentoring and resume review.
For a more general L&D audience, The Training, Learning, and Development Community is my personal favorite. TLDC offers many free learning events (like this one) throughout the year, and they have a Slack group to connect with other members. The membership fee is ridiculously cheap ($75 a year).
For more L&D communities, check out the list in the Resources section of this post. Most (if not all) of these communities have job boards.
Whatever communities you join, networking with other people in L&D is one of the best things you can do for your career. Not only will you form valuable relationships and learn from your peers, but networking can also open up opportunities. As an example, I met one of the contract instructional designers on my team—a transitioning teacher—during a virtual table discussion at a previous TLDC event. His background as a volunteer firefighter made him a perfect fit for a current project with FEMA’s National Fire Academy, and I was able to put him to work right away.
One of the questions I see from transitioning teachers over and over is “How can I find a mentor?” My answer: build your network!
Always approach networking with the intent to form relationships. You never know where they will lead. And you’ll be building a support system of professionals with whom you can continuously learn and grow.
To recap, here are the six tips I took away from last week’s presentations for transitioning teachers:
- Choose your path.
- Learn the lingo.
- Shift your mindset.
- Develop your skills.
- Get interview-ready.
- Build your network.
Resources for Transitioning Teachers
The following resources were shared throughout the event.
Speaker LinkedIn Pages
- Teacher to Instructional Designer Resources (Heidi Ranganathan)
- Learning Objectives Checklist (Heidi Kirby)
- Performance-Based Learning Objectives (Heidi Kirby)
- Interview Techniques and Tips (John Weber)
- Preparing for a Smooth Transition (While Still in the Classroom) (McKenzie Day)
- Get Useful Stuff, by Heidi Kirby
- The eLearning Coach, by Connie Malamed
- If You Ask Betty, by Betty Dannewitz
- Experiencing eLearning, by Christy Tucker – See the post, Getting Into Instructional Design
- Scissortail’s Learning Nest, by Kayleen Holt (shameless plug!) – See the post, How to Become an Instructional Designer: The Ultimate Resource List
- TLDCast: Creating an Instructional Design Portfolio, with Jaime Villanueva
- The Teacher Career Coach Podcast, by Daphne Gomez
- ELB Learning (formerly eLearning Brothers) YouTube Channel
- Apple: BLOC: Building Learning and Organizational Culture (Heidi Kirby)
- Spotify: BLOC: Building Learning and Organizational Culture (Heidi Kirby)
- The eLearning Coach Podcast (Connie Malamed)
- Teaching: A Path to L&D (Sara Stevick – free)
- The Training, Learning, and Development Community (TLDC) (Luis Malbas)
- Global Learning and Development Community (GLDC)
- The eLearning Designer’s Community (Tim Slade – free)
- Mastering Instructional Design (Connie Malamed)
- The Learning Guild (free)
- The Accidental Instructional Designer, by Cammy Bean
- Design for How People Learn, by Julie Dirksen
- The eLearning Designer’s Handbook, by Tim Slade
- Map It, by Cathy Moore
- Visual Design Solutions, by Connie Malamed
- Visual Language for Designers, by Connie Malamed
- What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming an Instructional Designer, by Luke Hobson
Note: These are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a book using these links, I will earn a small amount that won’t affect your price but helps to support this blog.
- ATD TechKnowledge (New Orleans, Feb. 7–9, 2023)
- Learning Solutions (Orlando, April 12–14, 2023)
- ATD ICE (San Diego, May 21–24, 2023)
- DevLearn (Las Vegas, Oct. 25–27, 2023)
Resources for Company Research
Related TLDC Recaps
Visit these posts for links to recaps of previous sessions from TLDC (including links to the recordings):
- Transitioning to Learning and Development: A TLDC Event Recap (September 2022)
- The Accessible and Inclusive Design Conference (June 2022)
- eLearning Tools: A TLDC Event Recap (May 2022)
- Writing for Instructional Design: A TLDC Event Recap (January 2022)
- Recap of TLDC’s The Road to L&D (January 2022)
- The ID Transition Toolkit, by Karthick Richard
- G2: Learning Management Systems Comparison
- Josh Bersin (produces learning technology reports)
- ABCD (method of writing objectives): Audience, Behavior, Condition, Degree
- ADDIE: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation
- AI: Artificial Intelligence
- AR: Augmented Reality
- ARCS Model: Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction
- BI: Business Intelligence
- CMS: Content Management System
- DAP: Digital Adoption Platform
- ERP: Enterprise Resource Planning (software)
- HRIS: Human Resource Information System
- ID: Instructional Design
- KPI: Key Performance Indicators
- L&D: Learning and Development
- LCMS: Learning Content Management System
- LMS: Learning Management System
- LRS: Learning Record Store
- LXP: Learning Experience Platform
- OKR: Objectives and Key Results
- PADDIE: Planning, Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation
- QA: Quality Assurance
- RFP: Request for Proposals
- ROI: Return on Investment
- SAAS: Software As A Service
- SCORM: Shareable Content Object Reference Model
- SMART (method of writing goals): Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound
- TXP: Talent Experience Platform
- UI: User Interface
- VR: Virtual Reality
- xAPI: Experience Application Programming Interface