My Professional Journey
The Stepping Stones that Led me here
Over the past few years, teachers often ask me how I went from a classroom teacher to an educational consultant and author. They are curious and many would like to follow the path. It’s no secret. I’m happy to share it with you. If you’re curious or perhaps have a similar desire, read on.
I remember the first time my principal asked me to attend a training and come back to present it back to teachers at our campus. It was called Project CRISS (CReating Independence through Student-owned Strategies). I was mortified. Teaching students was one thing, but standing in front of my colleagues, my peers, was another. I could not believe that my principal felt I was the one that should and could do this.
That was the beginning.
I wish I could tell you that my first experience presenting in front of my colleagues was magical, that I was amazing and that they cheered for me and clapped loudly at the end. I wish I could say that I wasn’t a nervous wreck, shaking, and stumbling on my words. But I can’t tell you that. I would be lying. What I can say is that I didn’t give up and my administrators didn’t give up on me either.
What I learned from that experience is that stepping out of my comfort zone grew me, it stretched me. And I liked the feeling of growth.
From that point on, I continued to present when I could. Anytime the district or my campus asked for volunteers, I raised my hand (as uncomfortable as it felt) and if I was called on, I said yes. I also attended as many professional learning opportunities as I could. I viewed them through multiple lenses: the content and the presentation style. I took notes about how each trainer worked (the schedule, the routine, the vibe, the interaction, etc.). Through these experiences I sharpened my presentation skills.
Leaving the Campus
When I took a job at the district level as an ESL Facilitator, I began to present at local conferences too. I really recommend this and looking back, I should have done it sooner. If you are a teacher, my suggestion is start submitting proposals to present at local conferences. It’s a great way to get your name out there and also to practice outside of your school/district.
When a job opened up as a Professional Development Specialist for EL Teachers, I applied and was grateful to get it. Through this role, I not only presented, but also helped to seek out amazing professional learning opportunities for educators in my district. One of the best ways I found to network and find great resources was through Twitter.
I became very active on Twitter and grew a nice professional learning network and following. Through Twitter I shared what I was doing, reading, writing, presenting, and many of my social media followers liked it. It gained traction. I think it resonated with many educators of multilingual students.
Eventually organizations began reaching out to me to inquire about professional learning opportunities that I offered.
And that’s what led me to educational consulting. I didn’t decide one day to be a consultant. I guess when I think about it, educational consulting chose me. And I love it. I enjoy working with educators to serve students across the nation and beyond.
I hope my story helps you reflect on yours. I’m certain your journey won’t be the same as mine because no two are identical. But perhaps you might find a bit of advice or a connection that makes you feel less alone.
Educators Seeking to Become Consultants:
1. Attend professional learning opportunities and learn from presenters
2. Practice presenting at the local, state, and national levels
3. Get on social media and grow a PLN
4. Share what you're doing as a learner, reader, writer, teacher, presenter, etc.
5. Seek growth opportunities that stretch you
**Here were a few years where I wasn’t sure what direction I needed to go. I started a master’s program in library media science but decided it wasn’t for me. I thought I might need to be a reading specialist or a reading coach. But those plans didn’t work out. Looking back, I’m grateful that they didn’t. But at the time, it was hard to hear that someone else got the job.
7/5/2021 07:28:18 pm
Hi Valentina! Thank you for this blog post. As always, your insight and tips are helpful to me. I have been thinking about different ways to grow my practice with my colleague and dear friend. Your story and points for growing resonate with me. I am not a consistent user of social media. How do you recommend leveraging these tools for learning and growing you PLN? Thank you!
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