I Converted My Teaching Experience Into Paid Writing By Alexandra Lutz

For about ten years I had juggled motherhood, a job-share teaching position, and a freelance hobby. When my husband broached the possibility of having another baby, I blanched. There wasn’t enough money to quit my job, and there wasn’t enough time for anything (or anyone) new in my life. I knew there had to be a way to convert my teaching experience into paid writing, but how?

Pitching occasional articles to educators’ periodicals didn’t seem too promising. But soon after, I was browsing the latest issue of WritersWeekly.com when a freelance job caught my eye: a publisher of online high school courses was looking for writers. Responding to that ad in 2005 opened a world of publishing opportunities in the education market that has helped support my family (one member larger) to this day.

My first job in the booming e-learning industry was to write the on-screen text for one chapter of a digital history course. The editor sent an outline and my job was to fill in the rest. But e-learning is more than just reading from a computer screen, so I soon found myself preparing story boards for an art team to create fun learning tools like comic strips, flash animations, and interactive maps. There is a growing need for such content developers and editors with digital curriculum companies since online courses are becoming more popular with home schoolers, as well as public and private school districts who offer them as alternative learning, expanded curriculum options, college preparation and credit recovery.

Traditional curriculum publishers often want subject matter experts (which I am not) to write the textbooks, but I have been hired to write lesson plans, workbooks, activities, sample projects and tests. I joined the team of a web media company that recreates popular college textbooks with open source content, helping gather resources for the expert writers, and later write discussion questions based on their text. A gig with a testing company started with an offer to score the written portion of a well-known college admissions test but led to opportunities to write standardized assessment items.

State and local school systems hire freelancers to align curriculum. Virtual schools need freelancers for job titles such as instructional designer, course developer, content editor and online instructor. Large corporations and non-profits need writers to prepare training materials and provide input on educational theory.

Many of these jobs require applicants to have teaching experience or training. But if you, like me, are a teacher-turned-stay-at-home-mom, a retired educator, or even a graduate student, the opportunities in the educational market are overflowing!

Alexandra Lutz writes content for educational publishers, as well as articles on parenting and educational issues for consumer magazines.


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