How being a teacher prepared me as an excellent employee
Awoken by another dream of standing in a classroom unprepared for a lesson, whilst paper balls fly around my head, my eyes focused on the sandy graveyard for flies encasing the windows. Panicked breaths punctuated the morning’s motoring murmur as I began to prepared for another day of battle.
Whilst I always loved teaching and seeing the creative young minds develop, I also lamented the loss of time for writing. I worked hard and was dedicated, but most of the reading I did was educational or children’s books, and the longest writing I did was producing resources for lessons. I gave up teaching to become a full time writer and I haven’t looked back since.
When I first thought about leaving teaching, I was terrified but below are some reasons why teaching has prepared me to be an excellent employee. (I should know, I employ myself!)
#1 Teachers are organised
Having to prepare lessons and their related resources, books and homework takes inventing an organised system. Teachers have to develop their own way of being organised, which also means they are independent. As a writer, prioritising and creating timetables helps me to be efficient, meaning I draw upon these organisational skills daily.
#2 Teachers work long hours
Most teachers like to get into school to have a little bit of time in their domain before the students arrive and will spend several hours after classes in that room, tidying, making displays and marking books. Particularly when starting my business Palaver Maven, I worked really long hours. This included writing for many hours of the day, but also tweeting regularly and creating and updating my own website as well as the many clients I was lucky enough to have found. I thought then, and still think now, nothing of working 12 hour days: it’s just normal to me.
#3 Teachers are resilient
No matter how bad things got in teaching and no matter how exhausted I was, I still had to come in refreshed the next day. Teachers are some of the most resilient people I know. This has been really helpful when setting up a business. I had to be persistent in contacting people and resilient to inevitable criticism in order to persevere.
#4 Teachers are diplomats
“OK, so Adri, please apologise to John for calling him stupid and John please say sorry to Adri for pulling her hair, and now have a hug.” Teachers are almost always negotiating and being diplomatic. Be it between learners, or colleagues and parents, these skills of diplomacy are invaluable in any profession. Particularly as a writer, sometimes it’s necessary to liaise between different departments or to make suggestions for edits. How you frame this is key to getting good results.
#5 Teachers are intuitive
One of the things that makes great writers really great is their intuition. As teachers, we get to know a variety of people from all sorts of backgrounds and have to make a connection with them all. This means we have to be empathic. This is great in any job, but especially as a writer because writing excellent copy is about creating worlds that include people.
#6 Teachers are reflective
As par for the course in teaching, we constantly analyse and reflect upon lessons and how to modify them in future. Making small adjustments minute by minute, teachers are always striving to achieve more, which makes them progressive and reflective workers. Being able to adjust and improve my practises as a writer has really helped me to grow my business.
#7 Teachers are fantastic editors
Well versed in common mistakes, teachers can spot an error a mile off. Admittedly, I had the upper hand here as I was an English teacher. Misplaced commas or incorrect capitalisation were my bread and butter, but it makes error identification and correction quicker, the more you do it.
#8 Teachers know their subject
The best way to really understand something is to teach it. Again, having taught Media, Journalism and English I had a massive advantage for my industry, but teachers will have a very thorough knowledge of their subject and probably a good understanding of related areas too. Also teachers are really good at explaining things.