From Teacher to Instructional Coach: 8 Questions with Angela Watson
8 QUESTIONS is a new series of interviews with teachers who have effectively transitioned their classroom skills into new and exciting careers in the field of education. We at Teach.com believe that teaching is a rigorous and diverse classroom in and of itself; the skills learned “in the trenches” can translate into an exciting portfolio of professional options. From education tech to consulting, the only “X factor” is where you want to go — our interviews hope to shine a light on the steps it takes to get there.
Angela Watson is a National Board Certified Teacher with 11 years of classroom experience. In 2009, she turned her passion for helping other teachers into a career as an educational consultant based in Brooklyn, NY. As founder of Due Season Press and Educational Services, she’s created four books, two webinars, a blog, podcast, and curriculum resources, and she conducts seminars in schools around the world.
Connect with her on twitter @Angela_Watson
Name, location and current profession:
Angela Watson, Brooklyn, NY, Educational Consultant and Instructional Coach
Where did you earn your teaching certification(s), and where did you go to school?
I’m a National Board Certified Teacher (Early Childhood Generalist). I taught for five years just outside of Washington, D.C., and six years in South Florida (Miami and Fort Lauderdale). I’ve taught Pre-K and second and third grades.
How long were you a teacher?
What was the most rewarding part of being a classroom teacher? What about classroom teaching did you find most challenging?
I had so many classroom traditions and favorite lessons that I looked forward to teaching every year. Creating the classroom community and watching it grow from August through June was so much fun for me. The most challenging part was meeting the needs of every child. I felt like there were so many distractions from what really mattered and what made a real difference for kids.
Why did you decide to transition from classroom teaching to educational consulting?
I started my website in 2003 and published my first book in 2008, so I’d been laying the groundwork almost since the beginning of my teaching career. When I got married in 2009 and moved to Brooklyn, it was nearly impossible to find a teaching job, and the only work I could find was as a part-time instructional coach. I realized immediately that coaching was the next logical step for me: I am passionate about supporting and inspiring other educators, and being a “teacher of teachers” allowed me to make an impact in our field on a much bigger scale. The coaching work has grown into speaking at conferences and professional development events. I’ve also published three more books, started a podcast and designed curriculum materials and online courses. So, now there’s this entire Web of interrelated resources that I get to create for supporting teachers — it is so much fun!
What is the best part of your current job?
I get to be creative and make my own schedule. I only take on work that I’m super passionate about, and I create my own time line for producing it. Every year there are new opportunities, so I never get bored. I’m doing things now that I never dreamed about a few years ago — the technology and the educational market change so quickly that things never feel stagnant.
What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel in your current profession?
I had to learn all the marketing, social media and website development stuff on my own, but the core of the content I create is 100% based on the things I learned through classroom teaching. The ideas I share are practical and based on my own experience as a teacher and instructional coach. My favorite comment from teachers is when they say, “It’s like you’re inside my brain! How did you know that’s happening in my classroom?!”
I try to provide solutions for problems that teachers think no one else is facing — I want the ideas I share to make teachers feel less isolated and alone.
What advice would you offer a current teacher who is looking to make a career change to outside of the classroom?
Start building your online presence and establishing yourself as an expert in your niche now. Your website basically serves as an online resume these days — people will Google you before hiring you, and if they find a professional-looking blog and social media accounts that share relevant, helpful and knowledgeable teaching tips, you’ll have an edge over other candidates. Plus, you never know what might come from a connection you make online! Probably 90% of the opportunities I’ve had as an educational consultant have come out of my Internet presence: I share free resources and ideas all the time, and that builds relationships so that people will trust me when they’re ready to buy curriculum resources, books or professional development services. If you have great ideas from your classroom experience, start sharing them as widely as possible!
Read more from this series:
8 Questions With Jeff Herb
From Teacher to CEO: 8 Questions with Kelly Tenkely
From Teacher to Curriculum Specialist: 8 Questions with Glenn Wiebe
8 Questions With Scott Haselwood
8 Questions With Andrea Burston
Looking to make a career leap of your own? A doctorate of education (EdD) can help bridge the gap. Click to learn more.