Teachers are no strangers to the side-hustle: whether it’s tutoring, teaching summer school, or driving for Uber. Which is why I found it so strange that the teacher to instructional designer path isn’t as well-known within education. 


Personally, I think teachers make the best instructional designers.


And, yes, I am biased because I personally made the shift from teacher to instructional designer many years ago. Since my transition, I keep meeting creative professionals who also made the switch from teacher to instructional designer or want to. 


So today I’m going to let you in on education’s best-kept secret. If you’re a teacher looking for some side work or you’re ready to transition to a career that utilizes your strongest skills without the frustrations of the increasing demands of classroom teaching, Instructional Design could be the perfect field for you!

Thinking of Making the Leap from Teacher to Instructional Designer

What is Instructional Design?

Yes, you can make the teacher to instructional designer transition even if you’re asking this question. I asked the same thing when I first stumbled upon the term as a full-time teacher researching what my next career step might look like. 


I knew I wanted to leave teaching, but I didn’t want to go back to school at the time. So, what could I do with my existing skills? What role could I step into that would capitalize on the strengths I had already developed? 


First I want to share the ATD’s definition of instructional design. ATD is an association that’s got some great resources, which could be helpful to you as you make the teacher to instructional designer transition. “Instructional design is the creation of learning experiences and materials in a manner that results in the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills.”


As a teacher, you do that every day. Here’s how:

  • use strategies to assess student needs
  • take curriculum or state standards and turn that content into an organized sequence of learning opportunities for your students
  • have strategies you use to assess your student’s knowledge
  • use assessment data to make changes to your lessons to improve student learning
  • use clear, concise language to write instructions so that activities can be completed if you can’t be in the classroom


Does Instructional Design sound interesting to you?

Those are just a few examples, in the next few weeks, we’ll explore how your existing skills can make your transition from teacher to instructional designer a breeze. There are, of course, some common instructional design terms, theories, and other areas you’ll need to strengthen.


Again, we’ll explore many of the opportunities for professional growth in your teacher to instructional designer transition in the coming weeks, but to get you started I want to mention some common models of Instructional Design.



This is a really popular instructional design process. ADDIE stands for Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. I break down the ADDIE process in this blog post and in the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program so check those resources out for a deeper dive. Once you do, you’ll realize ADDIE isn’t all that different from how teachers lesson plan (in fact, I sometimes went through an entire mini-ADDIE process mid-lesson when something wasn’t working). 

Thinking of Making the Leap from Teacher to Instructional Designer

Understanding by Design/Backward Design

If you’ve been teaching for a few years, you probably recognize this one. Even if you don’t recognize this name, you’ll definitely recognize this approach to learning. 


In Understanding by Design, you start planning instruction with the end goal in mind. Ask, what do I want the learner to do as a result of this learning? From there, you determine what content is necessary to get your learner to that end goal and how you’ll know they got there. 


Dick and Carey Model

Based on research done by Walter Dick and Lou and James Carey, this model outlines 9 stages for designing instruction:

1: Identify Instructional Goals
2. Conduct Instructional Analysis
3. Identify Entry Behaviors and Learner Characteristics
4: Write Performance Objectives
5. Develop Criterion-Referenced Test Items
6. Develop Instructional Strategy
7: Create and Select Instructional Materials
8: Create and Conduct Formative Evaluation
9: Develop and Conduct Summative Evaluation


The common theme with these (and many other theories and models of instructional design) is that they often include the same steps and strategies teachers take every time they plan a unit. 


What will become important as you move further into your transition from teacher to an instructional designer is that you familiarize yourself with the new instructional design language.  Be sure to get savvy on the instructional design tools too. Translate your existing skills into the language of instructional design so you can land your first projects and start building a portfolio. 

Thinking of Making the Leap from Teacher to Instructional Designer

ID work: What to Expect

So what kind of work should you expect to do as an instructional designer? There are a lot of different options based on your specific skills, here’s a shortlist to give you an idea of some common tasks.


  • Revise and rewrite scripts using content from a subject-matter expert to put them into learner-friendly language
  • Organizing content from a subject matter expert into different lessons or modules
  • Storyboarding (taking that organized content and deciding what is important enough to appear on the screen during a video lesson or in an e-learning module)
  • Identify learning activities, knowledge checks, or assessment opportunities for a given audience
  • Recommend (and sometimes create) visual aids to accompany the content


The wonderful thing about Instructional Design is that once you’re doing the work, you can branch out to other creative aspects that interest you. Teachers with more tech-savvy might be great at recommending and supporting the learning management systems many companies use to house their courses. Teachers who are great at creating visually appealing resources for their students might find the e-learning development side of instructional design is a good fit for them.

Thinking of Making the Leap from Teacher to Instructional Designer

Conclusion: The Value of Instructional Design and Where YOU Fit in

If you’re not yet convinced to make the leap from teacher to an instructional designer, I have a feeling I know why. The students are the reason you got into teaching in the first place and they’re probably the reason you’ve stayed! Or, it could simply be summers off. A week for spring break, a week for Christmas, and a week for Fall Break. I still miss summer’s off!


It’s true that in instructional design, you don’t get to be in front of your learners implementing the courses you’ve worked so hard on unless you also wear the trainer hat. However, the value of instructional design work is long-term and reaches broadly. One course that you create might be accessed by thousands of learners. 


By bringing your expertise (your understanding of pedagogy, knowledge retention, engaging learners, assessing skills and so much more) to instructional design projects, you’re helping a hugely diverse group of students of all ages and backgrounds to grow in their respective fields. 


Instead of focusing on one content area, you can apply the foundations of teaching to literally any topic. To give you a clear example, I was a 5th-grade science and social studies teacher. I’ve successfully completed projects for human resources, finance, airlines, direct selling, counseling offices, safety and SO MUCH more. I might not be standing in front of students every day, but I’m still helping adult learners every day.

Next Steps

So are you ready to make the transition from teacher to instructional designer and eLearning developer? It’s summer break, why not trade in your tutoring gig for an instructional design project! In the comments below, tell me one thing that excites you the most about instructional design. You can also ask me a question about how I made this transition work for me. If you are interested in learning more about a teacher career change to instructional design, join The Hangout. It’s an amazing community with new and established instructional designers. Many of them are current or former teachers!

Are you looking for a proven path to go from teaching to full-time instructional design, without getting another degree? Check out my 12-week immersive program: Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program.

The Testimonials are In:


Shola Richards

Working with Shanwtay and Katie at the Instructional Design Company was a dream come true. Their creativity, expertise, and professionalism throughout the entire process was beyond top notch. I engaged them to help turn my first book into a training course, and I could not be happier with how the final product turned out. If you have an instructional design project and you’re considering which company to work with, you can stop your search and thank me later. They are truly the best in the business.

Shola Richards


Graphic Designer

I joined the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program because I struggled to find jobs in instructional design beyond the development phase. I’ve done a couple of training programs with lots of random projects, but I was overwhelmed, not connecting the dots, and not good at structuring my writing to hit learning objectives. I was looking for motivation and direction at beginning a better Instructional Designer.

After taking the Instructional Design & Tech Certificate program and joining my fantastic team for support, I found the structure and approach to be what I need to take my next steps, evening improving my skills in the development stage.

Gayle Bower


Teacher, Future Instructional Designer

I love how this course let’s you work at your own pace. I got great tips and learned many things. The ongoing support for multiple people and groups is what I love the best. You are never alone in this process. I have been able to adjust my resume and began creating a portfolio of work I’ve completed to add when applying for jobs. I use many of the PowerPoint skills in my lessons and trainings. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to become an instructional designer.

Laurie Henderson


Teacher, Future Instructional Designer

I have searched for the last few years to find some suitable career change where I wouldn’t have to earn another degree and where I could use the talents and skills I already have as a teacher. When I came across the Instructional Design Accelerator course, I loved the fact that Shawntay was a former teacher and could relate to a teacher’s need to transition from the classroom. This was what sold the course for me. Her experiences are invaluable especially when translating teacher duties to instructional designer duties. I would (and have) recommended this program to other teachers I know who are looking to transition out of the classroom. I do appreciate ALL of her feedback on my projects!

Wendy McMillian


L&D Project Manager

The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator certificate program is one of the most comprehensive ID programs out there for beginners. If you’re looking to grow your schools in ID and development then I highly recommend this program. Not only will this program give you an overview of theory, but you will receive a thorough walkthrough of how to apply what you have learned. Although I had already secured a position in Learning & Development when I bought this course, it helped me to move up into a new position as a Learning & Development Project Manager!

Gabby Grimaldo


Future Instructional Designer

If you have any interest in ID, sign up for this program NOW! Shawntay and her team are top notch! The course content exceeded my expectations in a big way and the encouragement and support continues to be so valuable. You will not feel alone going through this course, you will learn so much, you’ll have many cheerleaders, and you will have fun!

Shanna Howe


Future Instructional Designer

I am really enjoying this program! It’s prerfect for someone who is thinking about a career shift to Instructional Design and does not have a lot of experience. This is my first real introduction to Instructional Design and it’s been the perfect beginner course to help me get my feet wet. The modules are broken down well and it’s great to go at your own pace and at your own time. The modules themselves are very comprehensive and you learn a lot from all of them. I really like how each one build upon each other and you’re working towards the bigger project of designing your first training course from scratch. I’m learning so much from going through this course! I was provided great feedback from Katie and Shawntay through the process via Trello Boards, comments on the Google documents, and Facebook group. This course has been well worth the time and effort and I appreciate the fact that I will always have the resources available to me after I complete the training (just in case I’m not quite ready to transition yet).

Aviva Berkowitz


Future Instructional Designer

I can’t say enough great things about the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program! The length of the program is perfect; it doesn’t feel rushed and there’s just the right amount of structure to give you the accountability you need. There are so many opportunities to get live answers to any questions you have related to the course content or anything ID-related! This program gave me the support and structure I needed to both feel affirmed in the relevant skills I already had coming in and to fill in the gaps I had as a career-changer going into ID. Shawntay, Katie, and all the coaches are super helpful and supportive. I now feel confident that I have the tools and access to resources I need to apply for ID jobs without wondering if there’s something I’m “missing” in the preparation process. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to transition into ID or who just wants to brush up on their skills in the field.

Krista Johnson Awomoyi


Freelance Instructional Designer

I’d highly recommend the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program. I’m blown away by how much I learned in just 12 weeks. I had ID experience prior to taking this course and was just looking to get a better understanding of applying adult learning principles. This course well exceeded my expectations! Not only did I gain a clear understanding of adult learning principles, I was also able to apply those principles by creating assets for your portfolio using PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Pro and Storyline. The hands on support that we received was top notch.

Darlene Dalgleish


Instructional Designer

This program is one of the most robust yet fulfilling L&D programs I’ve seen. I learned so much about the industry and about the limitlessness of my own capabilities. I am so appreciative of Shawntay and all of the trainers who took part in the program. They went above and beyond with not only guiding, but communicating live and working one on one or in small groups. If you are on the fence, I say take the leap and you will not regret it! There’s so much to learn, not only from the trainers, but also the learners in your group. Everyone comes in with their own skills and can be additional support and guidance for you. Thank you for creating this program!

Shawnice Edge


Instructional Designer Training Facilitator

Shawntay is an amazing individual. She is very knowledgeable in all aspects of ID and eLearning. She is also very compassionate and loves to help and see everyone around her grow and prosper. Shawntay has been a great mentor to me and she has helped me mature as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She has provided me with opportunities when others have overlooked me. I am very grateful to have met and built a lifelong relationship with Shawntay.

I recently got hired into my first instructional design / training position and Shawntay was one of the first people to congratulate me!

Brian Hightower


Freelance Instructional Designer

My teacher-to-instructional-designer journey began two years ago when I left my teaching comfort zone and started my first freelance ID job. Now, I’m stepping out of the classroom and taking my freelance work full-time, so I’m thrilled to be joining the Tech Accelerator program. Adding technologies like Articulate 360 and Adobe Premiere Pro to my qualifications will help me take my courses to the next level and attract more clients!

Sarah Smith


Teacher Transitioning into Instructional Design

I am genuinely grateful for this course. I wanted a real-world perspective and feel like I got it. I’m teaching now, but nearing retirement age but can see myself working as an instructional designer well into my retirement years. My other goal is to take as many courses in statistics as possible in hopes of bringing some mathematical precision to the ROI question. Like you say, getting accurate metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but I intend to work on that part. That’s unimportant right now, what is important is the fact that I feel like this course was well worth every penny I spent and I would to it again in a heartbeat. I have too much going on right now, but as soon as I get some time freed up I intend to take your course in project management.

Lee R


Turns Your Written Thoughts Into a Masterpiece!

Shawntay Skjoldager can turn your written thoughts into a masterpiece. She is great to work with and the most organized person I know!

Sheryl Rhoades
President and CEO, The Creative Entreprenuer


Shawntay has been incredible!

Shawntay has been incredible and her team is responsive and effective in translating my training programs into professional presentations. Don’t hesitate to contact her for your project.

President and Principal of HRM Consulting, Inc.


IDC is My Secret Weapon to Soar Above My Competition!

The IDC team has been my secret and special weapon of success. They have delivered above and beyond with every single project out in front of them. They have met and beat timelines. They have been Uber responsive every step of the way. I keep them on speed dial and have and continue to recommend them to friends and clients. If you are in need of instructional design and plenty more, this is THE ALL-STAR team that will more than deliver and help make you and your project soar above the competition.

LT. COL. Jason O. Harris
U.S. Air Force Officer, Special Operations Pilot, U.S.A.F. Academy Instructor, Motivational Speaker


A Tremendous Asset to the Project Team!

Working with Shawntay and the Instructional Design Company has allowed our university to meet the growing demands of our programs. Shawntay’s expertise allowed for the course development to be completed on time and met all of the university requirements. Shawntay’s project management skills were phenomenal and allowed my team to work on other areas while she completed this project for us. Her work is of high quality and her professionalism and willingness to help made her a tremendous asset to the project team.

Amanda Buckley
Academic Quality Assurance Specialist, Abilene Christian University


Creative & Highly Talented!

Shawntay is a creative and highly talented instructional designer.  She brought a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership that enabled her to own the design and creation of a full scale facilitator curriculum and train-the-trainer program.  It was a pleasure to partner with Shawntay, her project management and communication skills ensured the project was on time and on budget.

Susan Gatti
President, IMMIXID


Breaks Down Mammoth Projects

“Shawntay is quick study and carefully synthesizes information for presentations that are clear, concise and captivating. Her personality draws the audience in and her content mastery is excellent. A team player and organizer, Shawntay has the ability to break down mammoth projects, keep everybody on time and on task.”

Rick Miller
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach


eLearning Development

“I have had many opportunities to work with Shawntay—mainly in the support of implementing new eLearning initiatives. I have been very impressed by her ability to quickly learn how to use rapid eLearning development tools and effectively use them to create multiple courses within a short timeframe. Shawntay’s enthusiastic nature, attention to detail, and dedication to her work make her a pleasure to work with and a great asset to both Texas A&M University-Commerce and the broader training community within the Texas A&M University System.”

Ashley Christian
Director of Learning Strategy, Caveo Learning


Top Notch Professional

Working with Shawntay has been an immense pleasure. She is atop notch professional who brings enthusiasm and extensiveexpertise to professional curriculum development and execution. Her knowledge of tried and true techniques to maximize the effectiveness of presentations is invaluable.

Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Vice President of Research, CEIR - Center for Exhibition Industry Research


Fortunate to Find Shawntay!

“I was fortunate to find Shawntay when our organization was looking to expand and update our educational offerings. Shawntay proved herself to be an educational and personal development expert who immediately made an impact with our clients throughout Europe. Everyone who came into contact with Shawntay was immediately impressed by her level of expertise and willingness to share her knowledge with those around her. I would not hesitate to recommend Shawntay to anyone looking for an education subject matter expert.”

Jonathan Burt
Director of Qualifications and NSD Services, Mary Kay Inc.


Short Turn Around. On Time. Under Budget!

“We hired Shawntay to develop a training facilitator’s guide and PowerPoint slide deck for an operations manual heavy with technical content. The project was made more challenging by a very short turn around, 5 business days, and the fact that the operations manual wasn’t complete and was being updated simultaneously with the facilitator’s guide and slide deck. Despite these challenges, Shawntay delivered as promised. On time and under budget.”

Dave Beeman, CPP
Vice President, Andy Frain Services


Need an Expert Who Consistently Delivers?

“Working with Shawntay you will immediately notice her professional presence and poise, but over time her tenacious pursuit of excellence and her skills in instructional development and adult learning will really impress you. I worked with her at Mary Kay, and was able to experience firsthand her great rapport with regional partners in Europe, understanding their unique sales force training needs. In addition, Shawntay consistently exhibited grace under pressure, made executive decisions to move business forward. If you are looking for an expert who consistently delivers and goes the extra mile to get things done, contact Shawntay!”

Mellora Moore
Marketing Director, Academic Partnerships


Quality Products & Solutions!

“I had had the pleasure of knowing and working with Shawntay on more than a few occasions. I found her to be a very good business partner and very committed to delivering a quality product or solution in a timely manner. I have always had a positive experience in partnering with Shawntay and would recommend that you consider leveraging her talent.”

Judy Owen, CPC
Transformational Leadership Coach


“Invest in yourself and take your skills to the next NEXT level!”

Get yourself signed up for Shawntay Skjoldager’s Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program today and be on your way to success! Within the first week of taking her course, you will experience growth! Be sure to plug into her Facebook Q&A sessions for personalized help, too. This is THE course to take if you are new to instructional design or have landed on the training team and need help getting started.

Patrick Hodges
Managing Partner, PHiG


“Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!”

Shawntay has exceptional knowledge and experience with all aspects of creating and implementing effective, performance based training for adults. She is exceptional at needs analysis – identifying target audiences and collaborating with business owners to keep training focused on business needs. And she is great to work with – always providing great support to get projects done on-time and on-target. She is always on the look-out for new and more effective ways to engage learners. Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!

Mike Stubblefield
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics


“Spot on”

I have known and worked with Shawntay  as a education program director and use the expertise of ShawntayMichelle for the development of my presentations.  The service has always been “spot on” with professionalism, care and attention.  Shawntay’s recommendations to my ideas make me look good to my clients.

Owner, Certified Consulting Services


“Shawntay Skjoldager reached in and made my training life so much easier!”

I am new to the training design and development world and I was SO excited to get in there, but I really lacked the real-world knowledge that would set me apart from my peers. And, then Shawntay Skjoldager walked into my life with an outstretched hand and a seemingly endless list of ways to knock every training out of the park. From the Training Analysis Form to the Tay Tay tips, this course made my life so much easier and even ironed out the review process that I had been struggling with for months.

Take time to invest in your own learning and make sure to put Shawntay Michelle at the top of your personal development list!


Katie Carter
Training Specialist, LegalShield

© 2023 iRIDD LLC. All rights reserved. iRIDD, ShawntayMichelle, Trainology and associated logos are exclusive property of iRIDD LLC.  |  Legal Notices