My journey from teacher to teacherpreneur

I’ve been meaning to share this story for years, because I get asked a LOT about my journey and how long it took me to get where I’m at right now. 

The short version is this:

I’m a National Board Certified Teacher, spending 11 years in the classroom and 7 years as an instructional coach. In 2009, I turned my passion for helping other teachers into a career as an educational consultant based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and Brooklyn, NY. I founded my own publishing company and professional development organization called Due Season Press and Educational Services.

Since then, I’ve authored and published 4 books, created online courses for teachers and teacherpreneurs, conducted instructional coaching all over the five boroughs of New York City, and presented at conferences and schools around the country and even a few internationally.

Last year, I started The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club, in which nearly 4,000 educators have come together to learn productivity strategies and get support in working smarter, not harder.

The rest of my work supporting teachers is online through my blog (The Cornerstone For Teachers), the curriculum resources I sell on TeachersPayTeachers, and of course, this podcast.

My journey from teacher to teacherpreneur

So. That’s a lot.

But I’m going to go into more detail, because I figure the people who care, really care and want to know the whole story, and the people who don’t care, really don’t care and are going to skip this post and podcast episode, anyway. 

If this episode was a movie on the Lifetime channel, it would be called Behind the Scenes: The Angela Watson Story. (Thank God it’s not.)

I’m going to be very transparent and vulnerable here, and share details that I haven’t shared publicly before to take you behind the scenes in my career. I’ll start by sharing the first part of my journey, and then in the next episode, I’ll share events from the past few years that have led up to what I’m doing now, and tell you about what’s next for me professionally. In both episodes, I’ll give you practical advice and inspiration if you’re thinking about making a change in your career or just want to look for ways to impact education beyond the four walls of the classroom.

I debated at length about whether or not to include the full transcript here. Ultimately, I decided not to because:

  1. These two episodes are considerably longer than the others, and I think it would be too much to read.
  2. I really want you to hear me tell this story in my own voice. This is a personal journey, and I’d rather tell it in a more personal way.

PART ONE

Click the PLAY button here or download the MP3 and listen on the go:

 

As you listen to part 1, you’ll hear me share:

  • How the lack of support & resources in my first teaching job led me to start looking for and sharing ideas online
  • How I got the idea for my original website and figured out how to get it started
  • How I wrote my first book for teachers (The Cornerstone) in 2008
  • How the publishing experience was a complete disaster but prepared me for an incredible accomplishment
  • What I think of that first book now and whether I still stand by the ideas in it
  • How I got started giving workshops and professional development
  • The PD event that changed my life and gave me a vision for supporting teachers
  • Why my book, website, and ideas didn’t gain traction right away (and how I handled it)
  • Why I decided to focus on webinars and on-demand trainings instead of live events
  • Why getting married in 2009 changed everything for me, both professionally and personally
  • How I got my first job as a freelance educational consultant
  • How I got my first job as an instructional coach
  • How my work as a coach inspired me to write a second book (Awakened) in 2011
  • Why I decided to write and publish another book (the Devotional Study Guide) immediately afterward in 2012
  • How all these events culminated in a breaking point where I was forced to step out of my comfort zone in a major way

great-leaders-motivation

If you’re listening to this and wondering what’s next in your career, I encourage you to keep the quote above in the forefront of your mind. As long as you are focused on making a difference–of identifying problems in education and offering solutions, either in the classroom or out–you are destined for greatness. You can make an impact in your small corner of the world where you belong. In fact, you already are.

PART TWO

Click the PLAY button here or download the MP3 and listen on the go:

 

As you listen to part 2, you’ll hear me share:

  • Why the book writing process had been frustrating for me, both personally and financially
  • How I got started selling curriculum resources on TeachersPayTeachers
  • Where my teaching resource inspiration and ideas come from
  • Why I think my store took off right away
  • How I got started as a speaker and professional presenter (even though I was terrified!)
  • The message I was so passionate about that I was willing to travel around the country to talk with teachers face to face
  • How I used that experience to help me finish writing my fourth book (Unshakeable)
  • What made Unshakeable so successful
  • Why I chose to phase out my speaking events even though I was getting more requests than ever
  • How an offhand comment from a single teacher inspired me to create a podcast (Truth for Teachers)
  • How 13 years of running everything in my business by myself led me to face some hard facts about my own limitations
  • How new possibilities opened up the moment I started building a team
  • Why I had produced and accomplished more than ever by 2015, but still felt like the most important problem teachers were facing still hadn’t been addressed
  • The solution I created to help teachers achieve work/life balance (The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club)
  • Why I struggled with how to name, price, and format the club resources
  • How the club has impacted me professionally and changed my entire work focus, and how it’s changing the way teacher’ work, too
  • The next challenge I intend to take on, and how it will help a select group of educators dive deeper into productivity and balance strategies for every aspect of their lives
  • The resources I’ve already created for teacherpreneurs and how I’d like to offer more support later

Never give up on a dream because of the time it takes to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.

I really want to thank those of you who took the time to listen all the way through my story. I’ve never told it in its entirety before, and I still feel like I’ve left a lot of things out. Feel free to ask questions in the comments–I’m happy to answer.

I hope I’ve told you about my experiences in a way that helps you see how everything I do now  and everything I’ve ever done simply grew out of my first love, which was sharing ideas that make teaching more effective, efficient, and enjoyable. The books, the speaking engagements, the online courses, the blog, the podcast, and now the club…everything came from that. That’s still what drives my work every day: making teaching more effective, efficient, and enjoyable.

To me, it’s like a giant puzzle that I’m putting together one piece at a time, sharing what I discover along the way. I’m almost 20 years into my career now and still have no idea what big picture all these little pieces are fitting into, and what I will have created when I’m done.

And somehow that’s the best part: to keep letting it all happen organically, just learning and growing right alongside the teachers I love helping.

I hope this story has inspired you to do the work you love. If you’re listening to this and thinking, oh my gosh, I could never do all that she’s done, I actually don’t feel inspired and just feel super overwhelmed and inadequate, I want you to remember this quote:

Long term success is a direct result

You see, you don’t have to know the complete big picture. I still don’t.

You just have to have a vision for what you want to have accomplished next. Think about what it is you want to contribute to the world and what you want your life to look like, and what the first steps would be to take you there.

What’s the most important thing you could do right now to make your vision a reality?

Figure out your biggest priority, and break it down into monthly and then weekly goals. At the start of each week, break down the weekly goal into actionable steps for each day. And then, you just show up. Look at that to-do list for the day and schedule each task into a slot according to when you have appropriate blocks of time and tend to feel most productivity. Show up and get it done, using your vision to motivate you.

Before you know it, that project will be complete, and you’ll know what the next step is. You will. You won’t be able to miss it, because the work you’ve done up to that point will lead you to that next place. And you repeat the same process all over again: break the big picture goal down into monthly goals, then weekly, then daily, and do small things each day to move you toward that vision.

Figure out what you need to achieve each day that will move you closer and closer to what you want. You can do this. And remember, it’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be worth it.

Next week: 6 simple steps to your best summer ever

Truth for Teachers podcast: a weekly 10 minute talk radio show you can download and take with you wherever you go!  A new episode is released each Sunday to get you energized and motivated for the week ahead.

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Angela is a National Board Certified Teacher with 11 years of classroom experience and 7 years experience as an instructional coach. As founder of Due Season Press and Educational Services, she has created printable curriculum resources, 4 books, 3 online courses, the Truth for Teachers podcast, and The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. Subscribe via email to get her best content sent to your inbox!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 COURTNEY TEAGUE May 3, 2016 at 6:46 am

Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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2 Angela Watson May 10, 2016 at 9:01 pm

Thanks for listening! Glad you enjoyed.

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3 Rebecca Montes de Oca May 4, 2016 at 4:43 pm

Thank you for sharing this. It is so encouraging!!

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4 Angela Watson May 10, 2016 at 9:02 pm

I’m so happy you found it encouraging–that was totally my intention! I’m not anyone special, and if I can do this, you can too!

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5 April May 9, 2016 at 8:01 am

I currently work 40 hours a week. But I feel like I have cut so much from my day and don’t do things bc they take time. Will the 40 hour work week help a person like me? A person who isn’t taking the time to do all the things but would like to do more? I just don’t want to be at school longer than I need to be.

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6 Angela Watson May 10, 2016 at 8:54 pm

Hi, April! I do think the club would help you even though you don’t need to reduce your hours. It would help you ensure you’re working on the right things–the stuff that truly benefits kids–and let go of the rest. It would also help you work more efficiently and streamline your systems so you can get more done in less time.

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7 Keren Hale May 10, 2016 at 10:54 pm

Angela, Thank you for the blog post. What an amazing story! I am so encouraged by your boldness to try new things. I would love to take a step toward creating my own materials. Beyond word processing, email and a bit of Facebook, I am pretty new with tech but I really want to learn to create fun materials for my classroom. Where does this newbie start?

Thanks! Keren

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8 Angela Watson May 15, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Thanks, Karen! You can find an overview of how to get started in New Seller Success Academy. I think that will give you an idea of what’s involved. PowerPoint is probably the easiest way to create teaching resources (though InDesign is better.)

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9 Kristi Wiggins May 13, 2016 at 8:31 pm

I really enjoyed listening to your story. I have your books, but I enjoy my club content from you more than anything I have read. Thank you for for all that you do to support teachers!!

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10 Angela Watson May 15, 2016 at 11:47 am

Aw, Kristi, I really appreciate your kind words. Thanks for taking the time to let me know!

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