What is a Teacherpreneur?
There is a new brand of teacher that is bridging the gap between the traditional classroom teacher, the administrator and the educational policy maker: the teacherpreneur. In the past, most schools have relied on a hierarchy that separates the people who create schools’ educational policies (administrators) from the people who actually deliver the education (teachers).
In the most tangible sense, that hierarchy separates the two physically, with teachers in the classroom and administrators in an office. However, it also separates them by purpose, with administrators envisioning educational policies and teachers implementing them directly. The teacherpreneur changes this history of compartmentalization by stepping outside the classroom to affect multiple realms of education. A teacherpreneur becomes involved in educational leadership, writes their own curricula, researches educational philosophies, educates other teachers and even works to reform official educational policies.
Multi-Tasking: Exploring Other Careers without Leaving the Classroom
Most teachers enjoy working with students, but in the past, those who have had dreams of making a greater impact on the educational frontier at large were required to leave their positions to pursue career opportunities in administration or the private sector. That is no longer the case, and these teacherpreneurs who choose to pursue teaching and policy making at once can take on this hybrid role by working simultaneously both inside and outside of the classroom. Teacherpreneurs have the ability to work in the classroom part time, while their schools and improving educational policy in the remainder of their time. The Center for Teaching Quality illustrates successful examples of this approach through numerous case studies and offers additional resources innovation in your classroom and beyond.
Teachers interested in pursuing teacherpreneurship may choose to start careers working as community organizers, lawyers, tutors or counselors. In some ways, teacherpreneurship mimics what already exists at the university level, where professors often pursue opportunities outside of their specific education system (e.g. a computer science professor that partners with private companies to develop new technology or a law school professor that performs legal research.)
Teacherpreneurs can use the skills they’ve implemented in the classroom to run a business, like a test-prep company, give lectures about educational techniques or work with local politicians to develop new ideas for statewide educational policies (and many, many more opportunities). Thus, teacherpreneurship allows more teachers to have an impact in fields other than classroom instruction, and it also allows teachers to have a richer, more diverse and fulfilling set of professional experiences.
Shaping the Future of Education Policy
Teacherpreneurs also have the benefit of getting more directly involved in educational policy. Hierarchy in the educational system can make it difficult for experienced teachers to direct their own classrooms. Teacherpreneurs don’t have to feel as restricted because they can instruct students and work with policymakers during the course of one day. These professionals have valuable input that could improve education policy. Teacherpreneurs who choose to pursue interests in education policy have the ability to become key leaders in their school systems. They don’t have to merely act as advisors, they can move into leadership positions that give them more control over how the system functions.
Becoming Better Classroom Instructors
Not only do teacherpreneurs have the opportunity to affect policy by branching out to a second career, they also become better classroom instructors because of their multifaceted work. Opportunities to work with professionals outside of education can give teachers experiences that make them better instructors. Teacherpreneurs aren’t restricted to the information in textbooks; instead, many interact with those in the private sector, which gives them more up-to-date and relevant knowledge than what can often be found in classroom textbooks.
What Teacherpreneurs Are Not
Many people, including some teachers and school administrators, worry that teacherpreneurs will get too distracted from their outside work to instruct students effectively. Instead, administrators should look at teacherpreneurship as a way to bring innovation and excitement into the classroom and more effective and enriching experiences to the entire educational system. In a sense, teacherpreneurs are forgoing the bureaucracy to achieve a more engaged, streamlined state of learning. Teachers who choose this path are dedicated to working with students and choose to stay because they love connecting with their students, but are also dedicated to going beyond classroom teaching to make systemic changes to better our education system.
Classroom instructors interested in teacherpreneurship should approach the undertaking with the understanding that the job requires a lot of work; teacherpreneurs’ days are full. Those who have the right level of energy and find that teacherpreneur positions offer the flexibility that they need to stay interested in their work and offer better services to schools, and may just end up ultimately changing the world.