8 Questions with an Educator Influencer

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 Teach.com 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 George Couros and currently, I am a speaker, consultant, and author of the book, "The Innovator's Mindset".

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

I went to university in the city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, but have been living in Alberta, Canada, for the past decade.

3. How long were you a teacher for?

I was an educator for 18 years and am still highly involved in education. I have taught at every grade level from Grade 1-12, as well as been a school administrator (principal and vice principal), as well as working for division office. I have loved every year that I have been an educator, and still am highly involved in the field of education.

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

The most rewarding time as an educator was those moments where you finally saw that you were reaching a student that was tough to reach. As a principal and teacher, I wanted to ensure that students know that no matter what they did, I would not give up on them.

The most challenging part was marking. :)

Human connection is why I appreciate teaching so much; the conversations that I had with students was the most important thing to me.

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

What I am doing now kind of just fell upon me...it was never in my plans, but I worked for a school division that encouraged you to imagine that anything was possible, and then support you in going for it. They allowed me to work with them part-time, and pursue what I am doing today part-time, until I was ready to make a full commitment. It is easy to do this when you have support.

6. What is the best part of your job?

Feeling that you are changing mindsets towards what is possible and what school could possibly be. We have been very entrenched in years of being schooled, that when I see that "light" goes on in someone's brain, and they think of something in a way they have never thought before, it is an amazing feeling.

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

Being willing to learn...I was put into subject areas that were not my comfort zone, so if I was not open to learning, I would have never been able to be a teacher. I understood early on that when students see that you are willing to learn alongside them and show vulnerability in your knowledge (or lack thereof), you become more relatable.

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

I wouldn't necessarily suggest that anyone leave teaching. What I would suggest is that do what you are passionate about and love. If you are lucky enough to be doing that right now, you are making a huge difference in the world, no matter your career.

George Couros is a leading educator in the area of innovative leadership, teaching, and learning. He has worked with all levels of school, from K-12 as a teacher, technology facilitator, and school and district administrator, and is the author of the book, The Innovator’s Mindset; Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity. He is a sought-after speaker on the topic of innovative student learning and engagement and has worked with schools and organizations around the globe. George is also the creator of Connected Principals.com, an initiative that brings educators and leaders together from around the world to create powerful learning opportunities for students. You can connect with George on his blog or on Twitter.