Experts share tips from their experiences transitioning from educator to an IT role.
As digital tools become more prevalent, educators are discovering a desire to continue working with technology. Those who want to move into a role in educational technology, such as instructional technologist or technology director, don’t necessarily need a degree to make the transition.
“The experience with teaching and of potentially teaching adults would probably be more valuable than adding a degree,” says David Chan, director of instructional technology at Evanston Township High School in Illinois. “I was a chemistry major, not even an education major. My Masters is in teaching. There are plenty of ed tech credentials and microcredentials.”
Educators can focus on expanding their knowledge of educational technology with these credentials. This will allow them to develop and showcase their expertise with tech tools in the classroom, making them a top candidate for ed tech job openings in their district.
Here are other actionable steps K–12 educators can take now to set themselves up for a role in technology:
Incorporate Educational Technology into Instruction
To move into an educational technology role, educators should be showing their skills with tech by using it in their classes consistently. This also demonstrates a passion for ed tech, which school leaders will be looking for when hiring for a technology position.
“Current teachers should be thinking about how the technology enhances instruction and what they’re doing to use that technology in their classroom spaces in innovative ways,” Chan says. “Use technology to make something happen that couldn’t happen before.”
From there, educators should think about sharing their lessons and resources with other teachers in their district and with colleagues at other schools. Working with teachers and becoming the go-to tech expert among their peers can help educators secure a job in the technology department later on.
Engage K–12 IT Influencers on Social Media
Social media, particularly Twitter, can be one of the best ways for educators to expand their knowledge of educational technology. There are many K–12 IT influencers worth following on social media, and educators should also share the innovative ways they’re using technology in their own classrooms. This can lead to job opportunities in tech.
I had a lot of support from my principals because they saw something in me and because I shared a lot on social media.”
Alfonso Mendoza Instructional Technologist, Sharyland Independent School District
“When the opportunity came to transition into this role, I had a lot of support from my principals because they saw something in me and because I shared a lot on social media,” says Alfonso Mendoza, instructional technologist at Sharyland Independent School District in Texas. “It did catch the eye of school leaders at the district level.”
In today’s perpetually online world, building out a network on Twitter can be nearly as valuable as making those connections in person.
Build Your Ed Tech Network Locally and Nationally
For educators who are already networking within their district and online, the next step is to connect with colleagues a bit farther away.
Going to conferences will provide new insights while adding value to an educator’s resume. Starting small may help to build confidence and connections.
“I started going to ed tech conferences, and they were really local at first,” says Chan of his time as an educator. “We would go to another school and share, ‘What’s the new tool you’re using right now?’ Then, I became more involved, not just as an attendee, but also as a presenter and then eventually as a conference organizer.”
Educators can take the same approach to joining professional networks. They should find their state or local affiliates — “In Illinois, it’s the Illinois Digital Educators Alliance,” Chan says — and then target larger groups such as the International Society for Technology in Education. These networks can help educators find and land jobs in K–12 educational technology.