You can advance your career without leaving the classroom. One Seattle teacher tells how he made it happen.

A friend of mine who works in the business world recently complained to me that she feels stuck in her job. There’s no way for her to move up the career ladder.

As I listened to her tale, I thought to myself, Welcome to the world of teaching! If you’re a teacher who wants to advance in the profession, you’ll have to leave the classroom. The conventional wisdom — and a reality for many — is that you can advance only by becoming an administrator, pursuing a coaching position, or taking a job in the central office. And that often means moving away from the students we entered the profession to serve. Fortunately, new career paths are emerging for teachers. For the past year and a half, I have served in a hybrid position, teaching in the mornings and working in leadership roles in the afternoons. I hope my story will provide inspiration to those of you who may want to play an active role in major educational changes while keeping one foot in the classroom.

What if there were more teacherpreneurs out there?

Beginning to lead

Last year, I was beginning my eighth year of teaching social studies and Spanish at a high school in Seattle, Wash. I loved my job, and I’d gone out of my way to find new challenges for my professional growth.

I’d sought out leadership roles: serving as a department chair, traveling abroad with students, and coordinating a home visit program. I’d completed my National Board Certification, presented at regional conferences, and worked with a group of Seattle-area teachers to co-author a policy brief, “How Better Teacher and Student Assessment Can Power Up Learning.”

I was making a difference outside my classroom and developing new skills to take back to my students. I earned small stipends for some of these roles, but the responsibilities were above and beyond my full-time teaching position. They added to my workload rather than changing it.

The pace began to wear on me, especially as I tried to spend as much time as I could with my wife and young daughter. The last thing I wanted to do was burn out and leave the profession, as happens far too often.

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