Pivot Point: Becoming a Materials Writer
The ESL industry is facing major disruptions, from shifts in international student mobility trends, to reductions in state budgets, to the rise of contract work. As educators in this ever-changing, competitive employment market, both novice and experienced CATESOL prof...
The ESL industry is facing major disruptions, from shifts in international student mobility trends, to reductions in state budgets, to the rise of contract work. As educators in this ever-changing, competitive employment market, both novice and experienced CATESOL professionals may need to re-examine their skills set to be marketable in other sectors of education. ESL teachers have valuable professional skills, but agency and professional self-awareness are key for ESL teachers to secure meaningful and personally challenging employment when faced with downsizing, organizational restructuring and industry change. In response to assisting ESL teachers in developing agency and self-awareness of their professional skills set, Becoming a Materials Writer is the first in a series of four blog posts on remarketing and retooling, or pivoting, for careers outside of the classroom.
Have you ever thought of getting paid to write teaching and learning materials?
As teachers, many of us produce instructional materials for our students and/or for other teachers, and the ability to produce pedagogically sound instructional materials for a lesson or for an extended course sequence is an important skill. Understanding scope and sequence, as well as individual lesson goals within a larger instructional plan, require the synthesis and application of instructional knowledge. Many teachers may have published short articles and resources for teaching magazines or in online blogs and forums. Such publications can be highlighted on a resume to provide evidence of expertise in material development. If you have not yet published such articles, but would like to do so, there are a variety of publications and forums you can contribute to within CATESOL, TESOL, and other ELT associations.
Check out these sites to get started:
1) Katherine Bilsborough at Teachingenglish.org
2) Materials Writing Special Interest Group at IATEFL
In addition, publishers look for writers of teachers’ books and extra online resources to accompany mainstream textbooks. You can research such opportunities on publisher websites, by keeping up on CATESOL and TESOL newsletters, and by networking through material writers CATESOL/TESOL Special Interest Groups.
If you have been involved in developing an in-house course book at your school for students, this can be highlighted on your resume to show an understanding of what is required to produce materials for a course book as part of a team. These are both essential skills.
How can you highlight these skills for prospective employers?
Many teachers have their own professional website where they store the materials for their classes or for students to access classwork content. If you have a well-designed professional course website with instructional material that you have developed, you will want to reference this on your resume and/or develop a career e-portfolio. Potential employers can assess your skills and see evidence of your past work.
Read More: E-portfolios in the Job Search
A key factor in assessing your existing skills to transition into a materials writer position is to look at your skill set obtained from classroom teaching differently. An effective way to do this is to research materials writers’ employment ads and note minimum and preferred qualifications. Then, map how you have acquired these skills in your teaching career.
Here’s an example for Curriculum Developers
Are you a materials writer? How did you get started? What are your favorite resources? Share your experiences below!
Kara Mac Donald is works as an Academic Specialist with the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. Connect with her on LinkedIn
or via Email
works as an instructional systems specialist with the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. Connect with her on LinkedIn