Always a teacher: why identity at work is more important than you think

Like it or not, it’s the second question exchanged when meeting new people socially.

It is right up there after asking someone their name.

Who we are at work is often closely associated with our actual identity, which can be particularly problematic if you have a vocational career.

There is something special about saying you are a teacher.

It comes with instant perceptions in someone else’s mind – a teacher has a degree of status in people’s minds and a value to society.

But what happens when you leave the teaching profession?

For those considering “stepping away” it can be especially challenging when it comes to losing that sense of identity.

Teaching may have been part of who you are for many years.

It could be all you have known.

And so it is almost impossible to “see” yourself in another profession, even if you want to leave.

How can you get a change of career if YOU cannot see beyond the teacher?

Well first, stop fighting it.

Once you are a teacher, you’ll always have teacher status – you are a qualified teacher.

The “calling” to the vocation may have changed but you’ve already dedicated however many years to being in the classroom educating. You are a teacher.

Yet this does not mean that you must remain in the classroom if it’s your time to move on. But you do need to re-frame your points of identity.

This is important. If you can reshape your story, others will see you in a different way, too.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • I am a teacher who now works in….
  • Former or ex teacher (or retired teacher)
  • Educationalist
  • Freelance teacher
  • Self-employed teacher
  • Coach
  • Consultant teacher
  • Education specialist
  • Freacher (free teacher)
  • Career changer

There are many ways you can answer that question, “What do you do for a living?”

You can answer any way you like.

If the “teacher” title and identity is still important to you but you want to move on, re-frame and still use it.

But be sure that you discover your new identity – because only then can you truly move forward on a new path.

Need help finding your right path?

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I first worked with Will whilst I was a junior member of a teaching team. I worked closely with him for around three years and he became a true mentor to me. During this time Will helped encourage me to discover my own leadership style and he mapped out what it takes to be successful. I highly recommend Will for life and career coaching.

Will is a professional, natural leader who manages to make you feel at ease. He manages to be both emphatic and encouraging, whilst also managing to challenge you to find your own answers. Will’s approach is totally non-judgmental and the sessions are really focused on you and on what you want to achieve. Working with Will has allowed me to address challenges I was facing and he brought a wealth of resources and practical tools to help me set goals, clarify my values, and explore avenues right away. Even though I left teaching 5 years ago, I still seek out Will for his help and guidance and I appreciate his versatility as a thought partner, ally, and coach. Our sessions are always productive and efficiently run, which is perfect for someone who is juggling many priorities! Will brings great communication, professionalism and quality to his work and I highly recommend him as a life/business coach.
- Jamie T (Leadership Coaching)

Highly recommended

I am so glad I found Mapleleaf Vision! Will has been super supportive and understood exactly what I needed to help me to redirect my focus. I now have fresh enthusiasm for what lies ahead.
- Greg M (Life Coaching)


Will at Mapleleaf vision fitted me in for a last minute decision-making session that I needed to make ASAP re. a job offer / career change. He was friendly, professional, and really knew his stuff! He unpicked things that I could never have done on my own. I’m so grateful to him & will be highly recommending him to everyone! Where there is a ‘Will’, there’s a way! Thank you, Will. You truly have a gift.
- Cat K (Career Coaching)