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That's The Next Step: Life After Teaching!

Instructional designer and founder of The Next Step: Life After Teaching, Sara Stevick, joins me to talk about her passion to help educators transition out of classroom and into the world of instructional design. Sara shares a little about her own journey and her motivations for wanting to provide resources and advice to current and former teachers.

Follow Sara on LinkedIn, join the TNSLAT LinkedIn group, or visit


The following transcript was auto-generated and may contain typos or spelling errors.

Leslie Early 0:02

Okay, I am super excited because as a teacher, former teacher myself, I'm excited to have this guest here with me today because she is like, gonna have so much good information for all you teachers out there who are trying to transition into instructional design. Without further ado, I have a Sara Stevick here with me. She's a former teacher turned instructional designer, and you are the founder of the next step life after teaching an amazing resource. Let me turn it over to you. If you want to give like a quick recap or quick bio, let the listeners know, you know, a little bit about you.

Sara Stevick 0:39

Sure. Well, thank you, Leslie, I'm super excited to be here today with you. And hello to all the listeners out there. Like Leslie said, I am Sarah Stevick. I've been an instructional designer since July, I started my job search back in February. And something that really stuck out to me when I was looking was I just needed a little bit of help. I couldn't figure out right off the bat, what my resume should say, what is a portfolio, what goes in it, the different tools of the trade that I needed to know. And if I just had a little bit of direction, I feel like it would have been a lot easier of a transition. And so that really got me thinking, you know, how can I make this easier for other teachers, other teachers who are ready to say goodbye to teaching for whatever reason, and please know, whatever that reason is, I fully support you no teacher shaming or anything like that. And so I've noticed on a Facebook post, somebody posted, like, I'm just so done, and and i want out somebody tell me what, what can I do? I feel like I can do nothing.

And isn't that so true? We feel like we do nothing? Yeah, teachers. And that's so sad. Because teachers are so fantastic. Yeah. So I basically said, Well, you know, I just transition to instructional design. And if anybody's interested, then they can contact me. And I'm happy to, you know, give you the lowdown because at that point, I had been with a couple different people and mentored them a little bit through their transition. I was like, Oh, yeah, I can help a couple more. Well, I received so many emails. Yeah there was no way I could possibly meet with all everyone. So I set up a zoom meetup. And I said, Well, if I'm meeting with teachers, I better have my stuff together. So PowerPoint, and that one PowerPoint, one zoom meeting became an eight webinar series. And then it just started taking off and realized that they needed a place. So we created the LinkedIn group. The next step life after teaching, please look us up happy to have anybody making this transition, it is a sale free resource, everything we do is 100%, free will remain 100% free. And we're actually looking at filing for nonprofit in January.

Leslie Early 2:59

That's super exciting. I didn't know that.

Sara Stevick 3:01

It's very exciting. And our and our goal is, you know, I have a lot of volunteers, we just structured the organization, which is crazy. But we have a lot of volunteers that are super excited to help. So we've been able to offer live coaching and mentoring availability on our website, we've been able to offer additional webinars sessions coming up. So that's exciting. And also the opportunity to design. So we realize there's a lot of things that are very unique to the teacher to ID transition. So we're trying to create these resources. And we don't have time, as you know, we're running the group and we're doing our full time job, and most of us are moms. And so we're like, let's open it up, let's give this opportunity to people trying to get into instructional design to build their portfolio. So it's that whole volunteer page is coming soon, and it'll be open to any teacher wanting to look to get their feet wet.

Leslie Early 4:04

That's really exciting. So I do have some other questions, but you said something that kind of like perked my ears up a bit is the opportunity to design because I think not to, not to devalue, you know, webinars and and, and handouts and things like that, and even doing like calls or consultations and things. That's all great. But that's just talking about something that's not actually doing it yourself, you know, so I think it's great if you're if you're going for your nonprofit, and what I would suggest is, you know, creating little little design groups or little projects, giving people the chance to work on projects together in an actual team. And if that's if that's benefiting, you know, you're creating something on a volunteer basis. That's gonna help, you know, some outside community, I don't know for it like, I can't think of an example. But you know, creating some sort of training that would benefit, you know, a business or service in your community. That's great. And then now people can put that on their resume. And they have the experience, and they can talk about it when they go into a job interview, right? They can say, Yes, I did this with this volunteer organization, which, you know, I'm going to plug designed by humanity. But that actually also helped me a lot is because I built something with a group of volunteers, but it's still a real project that exists in the real world. So yeah, that's awesome. And if that's on your plan, then I think this is even better than I thought it was gonna be.

Sara Stevick 5:43

So yeah, absolutely. No, that's, that's actually exactly what we're doing. So kind of like how designed by humanity, you know, makes trainings for diversity and inclusion. We would be making instructional materials for teachers transitioning to ID.

Leslie Early 6:02

Oh, even better. Yeah, I hadn't even thought of that. It would be that specific. But that Yeah, that's great.

Sara Stevick 6:07

So that's, that's what we're building. And we've already had people starting I have Aaron, Chancellor, she is our multimedia and relations director. So she's been putting our website a little bit more together and getting our newsletter app, she puts all of that on her portfolio. The person under her will help create some other materials that go on their portfolio, I have a whole bunch of little like videos that I have in mind that I'm just going to pass out to people. So it's it's a team based thing. And yeah, it's that it's that's exactly what it is.

Leslie Early 6:48

That's really cool. Yeah. So I mean, so I guess you sort of have already answered this question. But, you know, what, if you had to give an elevator pitch of what is the next step life after teaching? How would you pitch this to somebody or explain it to somebody? Sure. So

Sara Stevick 7:07

So I would explain the next step life after teaching as a guided path, a step by step on how to start taking actionable steps in leaving teaching to go into instructional design, we talk about how to revamp your resume, we give you the words that should be utilized within a resume, we talked about how to optimize your LinkedIn, we talked about how to interview how to apply for jobs. So everything that you would need to secure a position, we don't necessarily teach the instructional design component. But we teach how to translate all of that awesome, amazing talent that you developed as a teacher into instructional design language. And we also show you where your gaps are, so that you can work through resources like LinkedIn learning, or go through a program or whatever you choose to develop the actual, you know, learning, instructional design materials there. But the biggest thing that sets us apart from everything else is that we are free. 100. Free. And that is the biggest thing because teachers deserve nice things, too. Right? When I was looking at transitioning, I had people Oh, I can help you for the low low price of 7999. Oh! I guess I'll be a teacher forever. And that's not true. You do not need to have a certificate to make this jump, you do need to put in the work. And you do need to fill your knowledge gaps. But if you're motivated, and you can definitely do this, and we're the group to help you do that for free.

Leslie Early 8:54

Yeah, I love that. And it's so true that I have mixed feelings right now what's happening, what I see happening on LinkedIn. So I see, yes, there's a huge influx of teachers, I knew this was gonna happen. I had a feeling this was already going to happen. But as soon as you know, the pandemic came and and you know, even in the springtime, schools were still open, but going through the summer, it seems pretty clear that a lot of schools, you know, whether they're going virtual or staying in person, and no matter what it's going to be either a lot of pressure on teachers to try and do that virtual balance or a health risk to teachers who are going full time into the classroom. So no, no matter what, it wasn't going to be a happy situation for teachers. So I kind of knew this was coming up quite a while ago that there was going to be a big influx of teachers. But in the since the fall, I think since since it really they really started coming in, there's been more awareness in the instructional design community that this is happening, right? Hmm.

Unknown Speaker 10:09

But what's very polar perception of it?

Leslie Early 10:13

Yeah. So there's like sort of a negative perception on one end of the spectrum. But then I also see people who are now targeting targeting is maybe too too strong of a word, but are like, you know, focusing on these teachers coming in, and sending a lot of marketing messages out to these teachers, so so I have mixed feelings about it, because some of them are legit good services that I think people can pay money for, and get a lot of value out of it. And some of them I feel like, is this really, especially because teachers are underpaid as it is? So is this really going to give, you know, I just don't like to see the like, sort of

Sara Stevick 10:57

They're taking advantage of the desperation. And I 100% agree with you, I think that it is completely fine. To sell that as a service to help career transitioners with their transition. However, it needs to be a fair market price. And unfortunately, a lot of these people coming in are very naive to what that fair market price is. And they are so desperate to get out. That Unfortunately, they stumble across someone. And they think that this is their only way out. And so they say I I've seen some very astronomical prices, like upwards of $3,000 for three months.

So my advice to listeners for that really would be if you want a private coach, absolutely go for it. I think there's a lot of value to be had. I would say take advantage of your free resources first. Turman if you actually want to pursue a coach, and if you do, you need that extra support, or you want somebody to sit down with you write your resume or portfolio, you need that weekly one on one, that's great shop around, because believe you me, there are very reasonable services out there. You can get a resume portfolio written or they work with you to write one for about $100 that's reasonable. You can get coaching and and feedback for about, you know, $300 for a complete program, you do not have to pay 1000s of dollars for this, please do. Just take the first thing, do your research, do your research.

Leslie Early 12:45

Yeah, and I think I like that. The other thing I really liked about the next step life after teaching, when I really had a chance to actually like poke around the website and get a better feel for like, what's there and what's available, is that it's sort of also serving as like a hub and like kind of gathering a lot of these resources into one place. Whereas like, that is half the battle, right of like searching and googling and like finding the different resources yourself that's like a job in itself is just to get gather everything. So I really liked how you sort of centralized and I know it's a work in progress. So you're like still adding more things every day. But what's there already is a pretty good foundation. So definitely the resources are out there to do it on your own. And it always feels better to have feedback. So if you want to pay for a coach, sure. But having a community of people I think is more important than having that localized place where you can go and find things and sort of start on your own path. Because, you know, as you said, a lot of what we already have as teachers is immediately transferable to becoming an instructional designer. Of course, there are some gaps. But the gaps in my mind are about tools, and about maybe company culture and a couple of these different things, the lingo we use is a little different. But all of that stuff you can do on your own, you can find the information, or practice it on your own, if you're motivated enough to do it. Not saying that, you know, not putting this on everybody else's shoulder like you have you're failing because you're not motivated. That's not true. I do it for certain classes, because I know that I'm not motivated to do it.

Sara Stevick 14:30

But it's a learning style. Well, yeah, you know, quote unquote, learning style. We know everybody, you know, we're shifting away from that learning style mentality. But no, I I completely agree. It's, it's finding the resources and that's what we really want to serve as as is almost like a library for people to come and reference and find what they need and create their own path because there is no one way to become an instructional designer and I think that's really important to be aware of is that if As you're going through this journey, you come across something you're like, I have a gut feeling that that this could be the best way for me follow that, you know, just because somebody else made it work for them doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to work for you. And so we really encourage that by just trying to provide everything and a suggested path to start on. And then have you branch out and do it, how it best makes sense for you.

Leslie Early 15:27

Right? And I kind of also like this LinkedIn group, because it's also building that community aspect where you feel like, okay, I, your LinkedIn group has quite a few members in it now, right? More than 100.

Sara Stevick 15:39

We're at 220!

Leslie Early 15:41

Yeah, last time I looked, it was like, almost 200. So yeah, so you it's, it makes a big difference to know, you're not the only one going through this. There's lots of other people who are trying to do the same thing. And at least it's a place to go and kind of get to know some of these people and maybe make connections that way. So I think you're really on the right track.

Sara Stevick 16:05

I have some awesome volunteers. You know, Heidi Kirby is my my right hand, man. And, you know, Aaron Chancellor has been amazing. Cheryl Oberlin. And I also have Bethany Kilgore. So it's just taking off in a phenomenal way. And our LinkedIn group, just so that everybody is aware, we do take anybody who wants to be an instructional designer with an education background. And it's a place that's a safe place where you can post work and ask for reviews and other eyes and opinions. We do different activities every day, every day is a different hashtag. And we make those interactive posts. So it's not just a place to connect with, like, people. It's also a place to learn and to grow, and to get that feedback that it's important.

Leslie Early 16:56

Yeah, yeah. So that brings me to my next question, which is how like, I have wanted to get involved, I'm sure there's other people maybe who are in a similar situation, who would like to get involved? So So for instance, if I wanted to volunteer time, you know, maybe a couple hours or whatever, a week to kind of help out with fielding questions, you know, or seminars or things when, when people have a lot of questions? How would I do that? How would someone volunteer their time like that for for you?

Sara Stevick 17:29

Well, that's a fantastic question. And that's one that we've actually been asking ourselves, asking ourselves that question, we've actually decided to restructure, we're going to have a page coming in January, probably early to mid January, where it's the volunteer page, you can learn all about our different volunteer opportunities, because you can volunteer as a facilitator, as a coach, mentor, as a ID as a Content Developer. So we have different types of volunteer opportunities. And so you can submit your interest form and then one of us would meet with you and just, you know, check everything out and make sure that your intentions are, are the same as ours, of course, and then we would get you assigned to your first project and get going. It's it's gonna be a pretty organized a situation for volunteering here shortly. But in the meantime, if you want to reach out to myself, Sarah stebic or Heidi Kirby, or Aaron, Chancellor, Cheryl Oberlin, please do. We're, we're always happy to have people and we might not be able to assign you right now. But we're definitely collecting names for our list of people who show interest.

Leslie Early 18:42

Yeah, that's great. Okay. So, um, so to be continued, or to be determined at the moment, right, we're waiting to the volunteer. Okay. For the website page. Okay. Um, well, I guess that's kind of that's, that's it in a nutshell. So again, I'm super excited about this project. I think it's exactly what a lot of people I need, I think it's gonna be a great resource. And you know, whether you know it or not, and I'm sure you do know it, but I'm sure it's gonna make a big difference in a lot of people's lives as they are trying to transition out of teaching right now.

Sara Stevick 19:18

So thank you. Yeah, it's been, I have to say, it's been a gift to be able to give back to my community in this way. And I think the biggest gift of all is that I get to see people pay it forward. And I was really missing that as part of really just society right now and seeing that good. And through this initiative, I have seen so much good and somuch, kind heartedness and genuine caring that it's uplifting, it's invigorating. So I absolutely love it. I would say if you're looking to transition, please check out our website at www dot life. After teaching that, see Oh, Mm hmm. And feel free to email, feel free to connect and we'll be running our next webinars in March sign up for that will begin in January as well.

Leslie Early 20:14

Okay, great. Well, thank you so much for joining me today.

Sara Stevick 20:19

Thanks for having me, Leslie. I loved it. And it's just such an honor to be to be here, so Well,

Leslie Early 20:25

thank you. Alright, well, thank you so much, Sarah. Have a good rest of your day.

Sara Stevick 20:30

Of course, you too.

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