Feeling Down? Reclaim Your Joy at Work

Most people have experience a season when they were not satisfied at work. Maybe it is caused by a project you are not excited about, a co-worker that is difficult or possibly your general health is down. Regardless of what it is, the result is lower job satisfaction and a lack of joy at work which become a downward cycle. No one wants to stay in this place, so here are some strategies to turn that situation around and reclaim your joy.

  • Discard the “Grass is always Greener” view

One of the things that can steal our job joy is looking out at other jobs or situations and thinking the grass in greener elsewhere. There may be some truth to that but remember that every job and company has its issues. It is important to remind yourself of that and focus on what is, not what isn’t. If you can do that, you will have already taken the first step to reclaiming your joy. You will also be able to identify what is taking away your joy which allows you to better achieve success in turning it around. As you look at those things, you can then determine, what is temporary, what is possible to change, and what you will continue to exist and you will need to work with.

  • Make a change at work

When you have identified those things which are issues at work, see what you can do to change them. If there is an environmental issue such as the office temperature, or space configuration, see if it is possible to make a change. If the issue is one of duties, maybe there is a duty you wish you didn’t have or one you wish you did, talk to your supervisor to see there is a possibility to either gain more experience in the duty you want or trade duties with someone to reduce the task that is frustrating. Not every manager will be open to conversations such as these but a good manager recognizes the benefits of a happy employee and if there are changes within their power to make, a good manager will work with you.

  • Find a professional growth activity

As Albert Einstein said, “The day you stop learning, you start dying.” We all need to be learning and growing and being active in professional growth can help recapture your joy at work. Maybe the opportunity is at or through work but there are many opportunities for professional growth outside of work. In the Learning and Development industry, you may look for a local chapter of the Association for Talent Development (ATD) or the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI). These are just two of the many great organizations that have opportunities for professional growth through local meetings, online webinars, and research papers.

  • Do something to affirm a co-worker

One of the great ways to find joy is to give it. There are lots of ways to affirm another employee but consider writing a handwritten note to another employee recognizing their strengths and how they impact your work or environment at the company. Douglas Conant, former CEO of Cambell’s made it a practice to write handwritten notes to employees every week as a part of developing a new culture that turned the company around. Just doing something positive that benefits a coworker will help you focus on the positives of that person and reclaim joy.

  • Identify ways that you make an impact

As a part of reclaiming your joy at work, make a list of the activities where you have made an impact at work. This may be specific projects you worked on that were successful, people that you helped or trained to be more effective, or ideas that you have contributed to help the company as a whole. As you make this list, you are affirming yourself and taking away the power of other things and people to take away your joy.

These five strategies will help you reclaim your joy at work. Things will never be perfect, but they will be better. And if for some reason you decide that you need to make a job change, each of these activities will have helped you with that process as well, from trying to work with your current employer to resolve the issue, networking through professional development, making sure when you leave you have left a good impression and left on good terms, and identifying those strengths that you have to offer your future employer.

Looking for some more information on these ideas, check out some of these links:

Why the Former Teacher May be Your Next Star Employee – Part II

In last week’s Part One post, we started looking at how the skills of former school teachers transfers to the Core Competency Model™ put forth by ATD and common job description skills. In that vein let’s continue to look at those.

Managing Learning Programs

  • Provide vision and strategies for learning program design
  • Provide project management for learning projects
  • Manage outside resources
Public school teachers are given a framework for what learners need to accomplish by the end of the year, but from their, they provide the vision and work out the strategies to achieve those goals and make their vision come to fruition. On top of this, teachers are working with a diverse population and manageing the learning programs for each learner they work with. They manage other school resources, parents and school volunteers, and other outside learning resources such as field trips, SMEs that they bring into their classroom, and learning competitions that their students compete in. Just putting together a field trip is an example of their project management skills. They deal with volunteer resources, budgeting for the trip, managing transportation and determining the content that will be delivered and how it will be structured. This can also involve the creation of other materials to supplement or extend the learning from the field trip experience.

 

Coaching

  • Coach employees to improve job performance
Teachers are involved in coaching students, parents, and future teachers. Teachers constantly work with students to engage them in examining their learning progress and establish goals. They review these goals and provide accountability for the student. Many parents are looking to teachers for ways to help and support their children and teachers coach them through this and help them understand their child and their child’s needs and work with them so that parents can determine the best strategies for helping their child. This can be coaching parents in how to help with homework, or how to question their child while reading together or how to oversee their child’s project. Additionally, many teacher have taken on the role of being a mentor teacher to a colleague or a student teacher. This is a very formal coaching experience that the teacher provides and is formally assessed by the school district or a local college.

 

Knowledge Management

  • Develop a culture of learning
  • Facilitate collaboration and social learning
A classroom community has a culture of learning and the teacher is right in the middle of it. The utilize strategies to bring together learners to work on projects and learn from one another. Teachers leverage a variety of resources, identifying the sources of knowledge and bringing students together with the necessary knowledge. They foster curiosity and a love of knowledge by engaging learners and helping them see the benefits of growing and learning together. Teachers act as facilitators, moderators, and social directors for their classroom and understand how to leverage these to promote optimal learning success.

 

Performance Improvement

  • Evaluate training needs
  • Design and develop training materials
  • Implement performance solutions
These days every teacher has at least one student with special needs, whether they are gifted or receiving educational support services. These are the students where a teacher applies more than just instruction, but brings their performance improvement skills into play. They need to take the extra time to understand the special learning needs for this student and determine what solution will best help them to excel. This might be a technology aid solution, involving them in a mentorship program, or modifying their environment to increase success. Teachers are not just designing instruction and facilitating it, but they are working with the whole learner and determining and implementing performance solutions that go beyond training the learner.

 

Because teachers are in charge of a small community, they end up involving themselves with all aspects of training and development. In addition to being the instructional designer and trainer, they also serve as the project manager for classroom events and project (and sometimes school-wide initiatives), the coach for anyone they bring into the learning community, and the person who looks at all aspects of a skill deficit and not only reaches out to training, but utilizes a toolbox of performance improvement techniques. While the teacher may less familiar with corporate culture, that is easily learned and the wealth of skills they bring to the table mean that the former teacher is primed to be a superstar in the learning and development world. Instead of hesitating, companies should embrace the former teacher and leverage the wealth of abilities they have to offer.

Some Advice for Teachers Looking to Transition

Like I said in the beginning of last week’s post, the key for the transitioning teacher is to effectively communicate their skills in corporate language. The Core Competency Model is a great place to start to understand how the corporate world talks about learning and development. Adopt the terms and framing when marketing yourself through your resume, cover letter, and during interviews. Being able to talk like a corporate instructional designer will demonstrate that you have done your research on the field you are transitioning to and allow you to communicate the vast array of skills you have to offer that will enhance the potential employers company and improve their bottom line. You can make the transition and you will find the employer that has the vision and insight to hire you, their next superstar!

Looking for more information about becoming an instructional designer, check out these other posts:

How to Become an Instructional Designer

Getting into Instructional Design

 

 

Why the Former Teacher May be Your Next Star Employee – Part I

I recently responded to a post from a person looking for advice on how to transfer from public education into corporate training because she was running into obstacles from potential employers. As someone who made the same transition, I related to her struggles. Many people in the corporate world do not see the connection between the role of a public school teacher and a corporate instructional designer/trainer and discount that experience.

My advice included understanding the way corporate jobs are framed and the terms used in describing the skills needed for a position and to frame her experience in that same way to help potential employers see how the skills are relevant.

Over the next two posts we will look at 8 of the 10 competencies in the Core Competency Model™ from ATD and job skills listed in corporate job descriptions to see why the former teacher might be your future star employee.

 

Instructional Design

  • Evaluate training needs
  • Design and develop training materials
Public school teachers are constantly designing learning activities for their students. Curricula do not provide all the materials and a good teacher is constantly tailoring activities for different learners. They evaluate existing materials and modify to meet learner needs. This is continuously evolving as the teacher evaluates the needs of their class as a whole and individual students. A good teacher is balancing these needs and differentiating instruction for the different needs present in their classroom. Teachers also engage in formal evaluation of learners through regular report cards which are a mix of concrete data and subjective assessment based on contact with the learner.

 

Training Delivery

  • Conduct classroom and virtual training sessions
Facilitation is a core role of a classroom teacher. They are constantly standing in front of learners and delivering material. They also know how to manage groups of learners that are involved in a series of different activities. They are quite accomplished at working with one group or monitoring their activity while making sure that other groups of learners are engaged in their own learning. Teachers are masters of engagement and understand the role entertainment takes in good facilitation.

 

Learning Technologies

  • Experience with Captivate, Storyline, Lectora, and Microsoft applications
  • Design and develp eLearning modules
  • Experience with a LMS
Many teachers use a lot of technology in their classrooms. They may not have specifically used rapid design software, but have used other products such as Hyperstudio, iMovie, or web-based product to design or deliver learning activities. In my days as a teacher, I taught thinking skills and basic computing through the use of RoboLab, communication skills by teaching the students to capture, edit, and produce video to create public service announcements, and a variety of tools to create eLearning modules that guided learners to explore a topic and develop a variety of skills. Additionally, in today’s classroom, a teacher may have experience with a LMS such as Moodle or others. Teachers today can be very tech savvy and even if they don’t know the specific software program you use, they have likely used something similar.

 

Evaluating Learning Impact

  • Use metrics to evaluate learning programs
Teachers use a lot of data when measuring learning and students. They have data from classroom assessments which allow the teacher to evaluate specific students and identify issues with the instructional materials. Teachers also receives data from standardized tests which lets the teacher look at their students in relation to a greater population of learners. Additionally, the teacher has subjective data that has been collected as a part of individual coaching of a learner. Teachers are a great deal of experience working with and effectively using metrics to improve learning.

As you look at these four competencies, you can see that former teachers bring extensive experience designing and facilitating instruction. They have worked with a variety of metric, both creating the assessment to capture metric but also working with metrics that have been collected by other sources. Former teachers can also have extensive technology knowledge and while they may not have worked with the exact programs you want them to utilize, they have likely worked with very similar software technologies and may have used some technology that would be a great addition to your departments toolbox.

For myself, I was a huge technology enthusiast and was always looking at ways to use technology as one of the ways to best achieve the goals and objectives for my students. My love of technology and comfort with it led me down a path of designing and developing eLearning. While that is just one of my job functions, currently it is a focus and it is my roots in technology from my teaching experience that led to my success today.

Check back next week for part two of this series where we will look at four more of the competencies outlined by the ATD.