Last month, Bank Street held a career changer forum geared towards prospective students who are considering making a career change into education. I participated in the event as a panelist with two other Bank Street alumni, Greg David and Jamie Hopper. All three of us made the switch to teaching after working in a different field. As I have mentioned previously, before deciding to come to Bank Street I was pursuing a career in musical theater and performing in children’s theater shows. Greg David, who is now a 9/10s teacher at the School for Children, previously worked in business, as a financial journalist, investor, and entrepreneur in the healthcare field. Jamie Hopper worked in media as a magazine publisher and editor and now works at the Ideal School of Manhattan.
It was a very intimate event; we sat in a circle and shared about our previous careers and why we made the switch. One question we all addressed was: what strengths did we carry over from our former careers? I spoke about how my theater background helps me a great deal in the classroom. Sometimes teaching feels a bit like performing, it certainly takes just as much energy and enthusiasm. When planning a lesson I like to write myself a “script” so I have a clear idea of what I will say. But even with that script, my experience with theater and improv helps me feel comfortable making decisions in the moment and changing course when lessons or discussions go in a different direction than I had planned. Jamie talked about how his previous work taught him about the importance of building meaningful relationships with people and those skills have crossed over into the way he builds relationships with his students.
Another question we all discussed was what it was like to be back in school as a graduate student. Jamie and Greg both responded it was great, but also added they graduated many years ago. Since I was the only current student on the panel I was able to go into more depth. Being back in school is great, but it also took some time to get back into the swing of things. There is a lot of reading and writing of papers in graduate school and I was really out of practice in both areas. I think it is important to know going into graduate school after making a career change that there will be a learning curve, but each week gets easier and the professors and staff at Bank Street will do everything in their power to help you during this transition.
Greg and Jamie also pointed out that if you are thinking about making the switch to education but don’t have much experience working with children, you should consider some kind of volunteer work with children. There are a lot of tutoring and mentoring opportunities around the city and it’s a great chance to gain some experience working with children before starting graduate school.
Bank Street is a great place for career changers because the school values our different experiences and how our unique skills can cross over into the classroom. If you have any other questions regarding making a career change to education please feel free to comment below or send us an email!