5 Lessons I Learned from Changing Careers in My 30s

Several years ago, when I was 36, I was offered a job at my local elementary school. It was perfect for a lot of reasons: it was part-time, it was teaching kids English (which I had majored in in college), it was at my kids’ school, and it paid well.

The only problem with the job was that I wasn’t a teacher.

When I first left college and moved to Santiago, Chile, I taught English as a Second Language to adults for about a year and a half. But I’d never officially taught children in any capacity. So I would be completely changing careers, learning a new job from the ground up.

The Learning Curve is Painful

I don’t particularly like to be bad at stuff. I don’t think anybody does. In school, I was a good student who never really struggled with studying. I never learned the lesson that you have to be bad at something before you’re good at it. But when I started teaching, I had very little idea what I was doing.

I was thrown into teaching two students with no guidance and very little mentorship, so I didn’t know what I should be teaching them. Grammar? Vocabulary? Reading? Writing?

I reached out to other local ESL teachers and sat in on their classes to try and figure out what to do. One teacher recommended several books that I should buy for the classroom. I remember that she said to me, “if you could go through this book with your student before next year, that would lay a great foundation for him.”

The problem was, the book was a very basic vocabulary book. Surely there was something better I could be doing with my time than teaching him basic vocabulary?

I didn’t spend a ton of time teaching my student vocabulary from that book my first year, preferring instead to try and teach him how to write essays.

Continue reading “5 Lessons I Learned from Changing Careers in My 30s”