From Teacher to Teacher Resources Entrepeneur: 8 Questions with Betsy Weigle

8 QUESTIONS is a series of interviews with teachers who have effectively transitioned their classroom skills into new and exciting careers in the field of education. We at believe that teaching is a rigorous and diverse classroom in and of itself; the skills learned “in the trenches” can translate into an exciting portfolio of professional options. From education tech to consulting, the only “X factor” is where you want to go — our interviews hope to shine a light on the steps it takes to get there.

1. What’s your name, location and current profession?

My name is Betsy Weigle and I live and work in Spokane, Washington. I own an elementary teacher website named Classroom Caboodle. My website includes hundreds of how-to articles, as well as a store filled with worksheets, lesson plans and other elementary teaching products.

2. Where did you earn your teaching certification and where did you go to school?

I earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Growth and Development and Family Studies at Kansas State University. I earned my teaching certificate and Masters in Elementary Education from Eastern Washington University. I have also attained National Board Certification.

3. How long were you a teacher for?

I spent ten years in different elementary classrooms before pursuing my online business.

4. What was the most rewarding part of being a classroom teacher? What about classroom teaching did you find most challenging?

The most rewarding part was experiencing the innate kindness that children show each other. Adults often have to think about it before they're nice! I also loved seeing kids engaged in and super enthusiastic about learning – that made my efforts so worthwhile.

The most challenging aspect of my time in the classroom was something that all teachers are familiar with: time pressure. There is just not enough time to get everything done, even when you devote evenings and weekends.

5. Why did you decide to transition from classroom teaching to your current profession?

I don’t believe that new teachers are well-served by many parts of our system. Our current approach to educating teachers and preparing them for the classroom makes it difficult for them to start impacting children from the first moment they step into their full time jobs.

I set about changing this by providing information and tools to help new teachers start off successfully.

The most rewarding part was experiencing the innate kindness that children show each other. Adults often have to think about it before they're nice!

6. What is the best part of being an instructional designer?

The best part of my current job is the same as what I loved about the classroom: experiencing people who are engaged in learning and increasing their knowledge. When they are excited, adults have the same engagement with learning as children do.

7. What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel in your current profession?

Running an online business takes skills that all teachers are familiar with:

  • Flexibility
  • Organization
  • Time Management
  • Focus

A decade in the classroom gives you lots of practice with these critical business skills!

8. What advice would you offer a current teacher who is looking to make a career change to outside of the classroom?

Going into business is always a financial risk. It’s never guaranteed to work out the way you anticipate, so start something while you still have a full time job. Do your research, find websites that inspire you and decide what you're going to bring to the conversation that is different from what's already out there.

Never close the door on the classroom. A lot of teachers leave the classroom because of burnout; it's real and it makes you want to leave. But you always have to recall what you loved and understand that you might want to come back at some point. So keep up your teaching certification.

Leave gratefully and not bitterly. You learn a lot while being in the classroom that will allow you to be successful in other areas of teaching.

Betsy Weigle has taught 3rd, 4th and 5th grades and subbed in rooms from kindergarten to 6th grade. She has also worked as a technology trainer and curriculum developer. Her website, Classroom Caboodle, is focused on helping elementary teachers succeed in all areas of classroom management and instruction. Find her on Facebook at Classroom Caboodle


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