Business Education



How to Start an Educational Consulting Business?

How to become an educational consultant  January 24, 2020 – 07:25 pm

ery practical advice for anyone wanting to start doing educational consultingI get emails on a regular basis from educators who want to start an educational consulting career, but aren’t sure how to get started. They envision themselves coaching teachers, providing professional development, and supporting schools and teachers in a variety of ways, but can’t find any formal or official way of making the career shift to educational consulting.

The first and most important step that should be taken by anyone who thinks they may want to get education consulting jobs is this:

Figure out your passion. Do you love helping teachers integrate technology into their instruction? Are you passionate about sharing best practices in a particular subject area? Does the idea of teaching other people how to reach students with disabilities make your heart pound with excitement? “Education” is a really broad area, so narrow down your area(s) of expertise. For me, this was obviously classroom management and helping teachers enjoy their work.

Don’t worry about whether your passion is “monetizable.” Mine didn’t seem to be, and I followed it as a hobby for many years when I was a classroom teacher without any forseeable way of making money. My advice is to focus on what you love and do the work because it brings you joy–make that the definition of success for you. There is no shortage of experts telling teachers how to do their jobs. There IS a shortage of experts who are willing to dedicate themselves to providing educator support–even when there is no immediate pay off for them–because they love what they do and genuinely care about teachers and kids.

Next, establish yourself as an expert. No one ever gave me an official stamp of approval and classified me on some mysterious list as The Expert. I just put my ideas out there on the web! I started in 2004, and over time, teachers responded to my techniques in increasing numbers and I gained credibility. Having a masters degree and National Board Certification lends a sort of official-ness to my credentials, but I think it’s the voice and experience of a real person that matters most.

Site visitors kept urging me to publish a book, and in 2008, I wrote The Cornerstone. I really enjoyed writing it and am now releasing my fourth book. Thanks to the internet and major changes in the publishing industry, it’s getting easier and easier to starting your own publishing company as I did, or even just self-publish your book. If you feel like you have a book inside you waiting to be written, go for it! Write about what you know and love. Being a published author will lend you credibility, book royalties will boost your passive income flow, and you’ll have a manual for teachers and schools to purchase when you give professional development seminars.

Of course, you can get your name out there and establish a strong reputation in many other ways. I think it’s crucial to develop a professional community network through Twitter and blogging. Ask questions, participate in conversations, read books, and share what works (and what doesn’t) in your experience. Let your website or blog serve as a collection of your work and experience. Attending and presenting at conferences, both online and in person, is a fantastic way to connect with other educators. If these types of networking and idea-sharing activities don’t excite you, then you probably won’t enjoy consulting.

Networking is never ending in this field and should be done just because you love connecting with educators, not because you’re hoping to get work. The most successful consultants I know maintain an extremely active web presence because they like sharing ideas–they’re already booked years in advance, but they network out of passion. For the most part, they’re just there to give and to learn.

Be prepared to read and write constantly. It’s important to stay current in the field, so read LOTS of blogs (and discuss them in the comments.) Relationship building is integral, so even when reading books, I’ll still go online and leave reviews on my website, Amazon, etc. to spark discussion and share ideas. I answer every email I get from teachers on any subject from room arrangement to behavior modification to parent communication issues. I respond to each and every comment on my blog. Is all of this required? No. Do I get paid for this? No. But reading and writing online is a big part of being a consultant in the 21st century, and if the very thought of those tasks exhausts you, you’re better off thinking of a different line of work.

So, how do you actually get educational consulting jobs? Think outside the box in terms of work opportunities. You’re probably going to have to let go of the dream of job security, health benefits, and a pension. Most (but not all) education consultant jobs are part time, per diem. For me, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Being an educational consultant means I have complete and total freedom to accept the work I like and reject what’s not the best fit for me. I make my own schedule and I don’t get bogged down in the politics that comes from being employed by a school district.

Working for an education consultant firm can be fantastic. In New York City, there are several private companies who hire consultants and then school systems negotiate contracts with the companies. The organization I work for now is contracted with the NYCDOE as well as several regional religious boards of education, and I get the majority of my work through them. Sure, the company takes a cut from my earnings, but their outstanding reputation also means they get a lot of contracted work and command top dollar for it. They also set up the payments, negotiate the number of days and hours worked, hold meetings with the DOE, and handle other stuff that can really be a drag if you have to handle it yourself. And contrary to popular belief, the companies I’m familiar with (four major, nationwide organizations) do NOT micromanage the work. There is some paperwork to complete for documentation purposes, of course, but the goals of the consultancy and the way those goals are met is determined jointly by the consultant and school administration. The work is very much customized and school-based; the consultants are not required to push an agenda or sell a product. It’s solely about meeting the needs of kids and teachers. If this flexibility is important to you, make sure the companies you apply to work with hold the same ideal.

Source: thecornerstoneforteachers.com

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