The move from the cubicle to the classroom

When a corporate professional turns to teaching, the odds are usually high they would bring a degree of innovation to their new jobs

Updated - October 19, 2022 11:40 am IST

Published - October 19, 2022 08:57 am IST

Representational image

Representational image

When Nikhil Bangera “debuted” as school teacher at a private institution in Mumbai, he avoided the beaten track, designing a spanking-new curriculum for fifth graders. He even demanded these students leave their textbooks behind at home. The exercise seemed recklessly bold, but it paid off: The management was impressed with the results.

Nikhil found acceptance as an unconventional teacher, because his entry into the teaching profession also did not fit the mould. Nikhil had given up the IT field for teaching.

It might not be a widespread trend, but professionals in lucrative fields taking to the whiteboard does happen with a degree of regularity. The move is however viewed as reverse migration, as usually, teachers switch to other fields, disenchanted with the compensation offered in a teaching job.

When this “reverse migration” happens, the likelihood of ossified processes being challenged is indeed high. There are instances of best practices in the corporate world entering the portals of an educational institution.

Bharadhwaaj Lakxminarasiman is an auditor turned teacher, and he is working with the school management to effect pay parity, one challenging a skewed pay structure based on the class the teacher is teaching.

“We are adopting a system where the skills and competencies of teachers across classes are mapped; and then, the pay is made directly proportional to those skills and competencies,” says Bharadhwaaj, who entered the teaching field through the Teach for India Fellowship.

(It may be noted that through Teach for India’s Fellowship Programme, more than 4,000 professionals from diverse fields have started their own schools, training teachers, designing polices and continuing to serve within the classrooms.)

“As in the corporate world, there is resource management and resource allocation. Though the deliverables are different, client expectations (read parents’ expectations) are similar,” says Bharadhwaaj, who has risen to the post of vice-principal at this school in just two-and-a-half years.

From his own experience, Nikhil believes the process-driven approach of the corporate world can help a professional who has moved to teaching handle administrative responsibilities at the school efficiently.

The challenges

While these corporate professionals might come across as iconoclasts breaking moulds in the educational system, a majority of them are off to a shaky start as a teacher.

When she left the IT field to take up a teaching job in a private school, Vaijayanthi S experienced culture shock. The fact that this move happened at the height of the pandemic, and she had to take these classes online did not help soothe her nerves.

“I was not sure if these children were listening to me and if I would make a good teacher,” says Vaijayanthi, a middle-school mathematics teacher. From the IT field, Vaijayanthi is at ease working with tech tools, and playing to that strength, she brought greater efficiency to her work and also an example for others to follow.

Working with students is the toughest job — that was the advice handed out to Satyam Khandelwal (then a brand manager in a corporate house) when he was contemplating the switch to the education field.

“Yes, it is the toughest,” Satyam agrees, though he adapted to the new field with ease, thanks to mentoring exercises he had undertaken in the corporate sector. Satyam notes those Gen Z have more people to guide them, including influencers on social media.

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