If you’re considering a career change, you’re not alone. Statistics indicate that today’s professionals will change careers 7 times before they retire. But how can you know which career to transition into without first trying it out?
Interview the experts.
In an effort to gain a better understanding of 3 popular fields, I interviewed 3 women I know and respect deeply about their industries: Education, Therapy/Counseling, and Communications. This and my next two posts in the series will explore the hurdles, the rewards, and the outlook for these 3 fields.
Ana Mejia has worked in education for 8 years, progressively taking on more and more responsibility while exploring different arenas within the field. After excelling as a teacher in the classroom, she transitioned into coaching, where she advises teachers on how to inspire and lead students. She shares insight and advice for those considering a career in education:
What do you do & since when?
I am currently a Title III Teacher Coach for LAUSD. This position was designed to ensure that all students have access to rigorous core curriculum. I have been in the field of education since 2003 as a high school English teacher, dean of students, and curriculum coach.
What attracted you to this industry/field?
My initial attraction to the field of education was my passion for English literature. I basically needed an excuse to continue expanding on my literary knowledge so I thought teaching would be ideal, and it was. I quickly found that more than loving my subject, I truly enjoyed working with the youth. I developed a passion for every aspect of teaching and now coach teachers on effective teaching practices.
What is the most important quality/skill for success in your field?
The most important skill for success as a teacher coach is creativity and effective collaboration. It is crucial to remain creative simply because teacher coaches serve as troubleshooters in the classroom. A teacher coach must gauge what is working and what is not in order to refine a teacher’s practices. A teacher coach must model creative lessons that engage students, are relevant and rigorous, and tap into different learning modalities. Being able to effectively collaborate with others is also extremely crucial and requires the building of trust and effective communication between coach and teacher. The improvement of teaching practices must be a collaborative effort between coach, teacher, and student.
What are the biggest challenges of your field?
The biggest challenges to being a teacher coach in LAUSD is the lack of teacher resources and overcrowded classrooms. As a teacher coach, I must always respect that teachers are working with some limitations. Many classrooms do not have the computer technology that is required for teachers to stay current and better relate to their students. I am also challenged to revamp strategies that do not lend themselves to overcrowded classrooms, such as collaborative student groupings or kinesthetic lessons. Being a teacher coach requires that I support teachers in tackling problem areas without always being able to fix the real problem.
What are the biggest rewards?
The biggest rewards to being a teacher coach is seeing the success of students due to teacher improvement. Student success is teacher success. When struggling students have those “a-ha” moments because something was taught in a way that finally made sense to them, I know we have accomplished our ultimate mission. The biggest reward for me is to see everyone succeed, teachers and students alike.
What is the outlook for your field?
The outlook for my field is promising as low test scores have given way to new state mandates. Many of these new mandates require that low achieving students and English Language learners become focus students in our LAUSD schools. For too long, many of these students have been lost in the shuffle and we have failed to meet their educational needs. The Title III position was intended to support these students and ensure that they have access to a quality education and academic success!
Do you have advice for those considering going into education?
The best advice I can give anyone considering education is to remain flexible and passionate! Education is ever-changing and requires that people change with the times. Students change year after year and so must our practices. The ability to be flexible will ensure that you continue growing within the field. I also believe that you must nurture your passion for your subject, your students, or your duties. Education can be a hard sell if you are not truly passionate about what you are doing. If you believe in the significance and value of your work, students will too. Being in the field of education has allowed me the opportunities to make a difference everyday and impact the world in ways I may never know.
Ana Mejia is a first generation college graduate, born to parents of Central American descent. She has her BA in English Literature & MA in Educational Leadership from Cal State Northridge.