Today, Ali and JoDee chat with Stef Hogan! Stef has 8 years of experience as a scrum master who now works as an agile and delivery lead at GoCart. In this episode, the women discuss what a scrum master and agile are, Stef’s best advice for an educator looking to get into this field, and the empathy she has for teachers.
Connect with Stef:
Connect with Ali and JoDee:
Ali’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alisimon/
JoDee’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jodeescissors/
For episode transcriptions visit: https://thegreatteacherresignation.buzzsprout.com
All teachers are natural innovators, entertainers and problem solvers. They dream of growing old into the profession, teaching their kids kids. But sometimes career goals shift or change, and that makes opportunities outside of the classroom seem intangible. Questioning who am I if I'm not a teacher? I'm your host, Alexandra Simon.
And I'm your co-host, JoDee Scissors.
This is The Great Teacher Resignation.
Our guest today is Stef Hogan. Stef is a passionate learner, creator and innovator who has found your way from coaching basketball, to now exceeding in the software industry. A scrum master for eight years, Stef is now the agile and delivery lead at GoKart, an exciting startup out of Denver, Colorado. Welcome to the show.
Hey, thanks so much for having me on. I'm super pumped.
Stef, so glad to see you. Thanks for being on today. And before we start our discussion, I wanted to just kind of break down some teacher language. Teachers kind of have their own language. It has tons of acronyms and specialized terms that don't exactly transfer into other industries. And so can you break down just for a minute, your job. One, what is a scrum master? And then what is agile?
Yes, it's funny, because when I was preparing for this, this is one of the things that I probably prepared for the most, which makes no sense because it's my job and what I do every day. So if you think about like a COO at a company, so someone who's in charge of operations, essentially. A scrum master is basically the COO or like the operations person for the development team or the engineering team. To put it kind of maybe more simple or maybe more detailed, I'm not sure. Agile delivery is a type of software development. So it focuses on creating usable functionality of software. And very quick, usually two or three week increments. And the scrum master is essentially the master of that process. So what I ended up doing is I work with all the development teams, and I make sure that they have everything that they need in order to execute the features, and develop them as quickly as possible. So it's basically like a very quick software development wheel that keeps spinning. And I'm essentially the one that kind of coordinates everything, facilitates, make sure everyone's going the same way on the bus and steps in if there's ever any blockers, any confusion, any problems. So kind of jack of all trades, middleman multitasker, all over the place.
Sounds just like what a teacher would be doing in terms of, of management. One, like you're managing groups of people. And you have software that helps you kind of project manage and ensure that things are implemented with fidelity. And that I know that in teacher terms that might look like managing a team, managing a group of students, managing a staff, having a software that records data and ensuring that educators are implementing programs or exams or anything that needs data collection with fidelity. And so a lot of times when educators are transferring into other careers, they don't know how to transfer the teacher language into industry language, which is a really important part of understanding when you're looking at job descriptions. Well, okay, this is a scrum master. But what is a scrum master? And how does that relate to something I do now? And how could that transfer?
One of the things I'm really passionate about is career changing or pivoting. And it kind of goes to exactly what you said is, we think of ourselves as a teacher, as a nurse as a whatever. But when you break that down, like what are you? You're organized. You're high functioning multitasker. You're very motivated. You're empathetic. You're all these different things that can be transferred anywhere. And a scrum master is very similar to a teacher in that kind of to your point, the facilitation, you're working with groups of people that have different levels of understanding and different speeds at which they learn. So how can you make sure that everyone feels like they're on board? Everyone has the same level of understanding. Some people are visual learners. Some people are written learners. Some people need repetition. So kind of learning and understanding that and helping the group as well as the individuals get on the same page.
That's what I would call differentiation. And I've noticed, in my work, is a lot of the things that I do in terms of adult relationships is differentiating for their needs. How quickly they learn how they learn. And honestly, a lot of the way that I approach a student, I have approached adults in a similar way, because those children make those adults. And a lot of those needs are pretty similar when it comes to terms of what type of learner they are.
Yeah, absolutely. I think that a lot of that goes hand in hand with these two different roles and these two different titles. I guess one thing that you sort of already answered a little bit, but I'm wondering what does the title teacher mean to you as a non educator?
it's interesting, as I have aged, my perception of things has changed, which is normal. But I really think that teachers, it's such a unique position, because you have to be able to, like, lean in and lean out, like very fluidly in different situations and different groups with different individuals. But it's really such a soft skill that, I guess might be acquired, as you, you know, keep on teaching. But teachers are multitaskers. They're leaders. There isn't like a single answer for what a teacher is, because I feel like it's such a difficult position, because of everything you're doing in the classroom. And it really goes back to what we've said before, as far as multitasking with different students, different groups, and then all the administrative stuff that you also have to do. Which I don't really know what all of that is I just know, from having friends who are educators, what a heavy lift that is to also juggle with empathy, understanding and the classrooms that you're in.
I can absolutely see that. And one of the things that I'm thinking, let's say that a teacher decides that they're interested in going into a different field, perhaps the field that you're in. They work on getting the certifications needed. They're gearing up to apply for jobs, but they still have on their resume, most of their work experience presumably is as a teacher. So from where you're sitting, why would you bring a teacher onto your team, as long as they have the credentials or the certifications needed?
You have to find someone who's willing to give you a chance, right? And that's, you know, across the board. I have hired teachers before on my teams as a scrum master or a product owner, which is kind of like the scrum master's the right hand, the product owners are the left hand. I've hired teachers before, educators before. And the things that really stand out; the multitasking part of it again. I know, I keep saying that, but it's it's huge. Software industry is very quick moving. So to be able to context switch very quickly and help people in different areas of the software tech, you know, every five minutes, a different area, if that's needed is crucial. The other thing, too, is the ability to break things down and kind of make a plan. So in software, you might have this grand scheme of I'm gonna build a whole car, and I need to build this car by November 1. So you have your big plan, and then you need to start breaking it down into different milestones. What's most important? What are we going to do first? How are we going to do it? So that ability to break things down, while still keeping the full picture in your mind is huge. And that's something that, at least with the teachers that I've hired, and the interviews I've been on with teachers, they really grasp how to do that. And back to what JoDee said earlier, getting those things on your resume, although you might have been a teacher for however long, the soft skills that come with that ability to high level think and break down multitasking. The connection to connect with people in different ways at different times is also huge.
Yes. And in the education field, we call that backwards planning. And so I think it's important as an educator, if you're looking to apply for something like this, to really explain what that is. Be careful not to use terminology that's only in education. Be descriptive when you're having bullets on your resume or on LinkedIn. That you're able to look at a deadline, and then move things backwards and create a plan and break things down, etc. One of the things I'm curious about, so let's say I'm interested in becoming a scrum master or working in this field, where's a good place for me to get started? How do I get certified?
There's a kind of a big saturation of folks who want to get involved in product development or being a scrum master and they get certified and they start applying for jobs. And what I would suggest is before you even get the certification, because those are usually you know, 600 or to $1,000, get involved in the community. And what I mean by that is you can google Agile Cincinnati, Agile DC, Agile New York. And there are these communities of scrum masters or product owners. They call them like agilists, but go to some of their meetups and talk to them. Everyone loves talking about their job and how great they are, right? So go to these meetups and kind of start talking to people. There might be a situation where you can shadow for a day. Or maybe you can start meeting a scrum master or whomever for coffee a couple of times, you know, a quarter a week, whatever over the summer, and just get a better understanding. I would say after you do that, it's a great idea to get certified, to really get like the deep dive. Most of the certifications are two days. They offer them virtually and in person now. But it's just a huge deep dive into what a scrum master is. And it gives you kind of the groundwork to be successful as a scrum master. So those are the two things that I would suggest. But that would be my big thing is try to get connected to the community. Because the more connected you are, you're going to find someone who's going to give you a chance, because they're going to be like, I don't know if Stef is going to be a great scrum master, but she is, you know, awesome. She's hilarious. She gets along with people. She's organized. She's super driven. And the software industry, at least the startups that I've worked for, there's a big emphasis on, we can't teach you soft skills, like the organization, the multitasking, all of that. We can't teach that. So you have to come with that. If you're a teacher with those soft skills, and you're highly motivated, great. I can teach you how to work this mobile app. I can teach you the way that we do things. And that's the easy part. The hard part is finding folks with those soft skills that most teachers already have ingrained in them.
That's excellent advice. And I really agree with the idea of reaching out to a network or shadowing, trying to get in touch with people in the industry think you might want to move into, even if it's different than what Stef's industry is. Because it really gives you an idea if that's something that's going to be a good fit for you. And before you spend time going back to school or getting certifications. I know a lot of the reasons why teachers leave is because the work life balance is a lot. It's a lot to manage and a lot to juggle. So making sure you're comfortable with what that industry might look like, and networking.
Excellent advice. Like a really good starting point for teachers who are interested. And it's kind of that exploration phase of if you're looking to change or pivot. I'm wondering where does the core of your empathy and understanding of teachers come from? I know that you are a collegiate athlete, I've seen you reign threes. I know that you are a coach. And you're kind of accustomed to the coach and player relationship. Do you think that growing up as an athlete and your connection to sports has built this empathy towards teacher because you understand that there's a close connection between a coach and a teacher? Or does it come from another place?
I think it has a little bit to do with that. I also think going through high school I was kind of the class clown. So I was a great student, but I also was like pranking, and probably could have been like, a nicer person to my teachers. So I think that that perspective, like as I've gotten older is like, being a teacher is really, really difficult. And being a scrum master is difficult. Being anything in the world right now is very difficult. But the empathy I have for teachers just goes to like... I have two nephews and a niece now and with the gap in pay with teachers and other occupations and the amount of things that teachers have to deal with that they didn't really even sign up to deal with and the lack of support that is given to educators. I live in Kentucky. I live in Louisville, Kentucky. So there's a huge gap oin you know, public and private schools, which I'm sure is everywhere. But just the lack of support for something that is so, so, so important to the success of the next generation, right? So I think a lot of my empathy comes from that. And then also just, it pains my heart when people are like, well, I'm just a teacher and I don't know if I could do that. Or I'm just this and I don't know if I could do that. The other part of my empathy just comes from like, yes, you are a teacher and like, you are a badass. You have all of these soft skills. You've dealt with more crap, and like a week than most business professionals deal with in a year. You have to deal with students and parents and then administer ration and then the state guidelines for things. Like it's a lot of stress. And I don't even know if I answered your question. I feel like I'm rambling. But a lot of my empathy just comes from that of like, having teacher friends and hearing their stories. And realizing like, teachers need support. Like this is really hard. And if they're not happy, being a teacher, for whatever reason, there are so many options for them. And you can do that things are flexible outside of teaching.
What I heard is one, treat teachers with kindness. Teachers are badasses. Teachers can do all the things. And obviously, you do have a nice, clear lens for that. And I think that that shows in you, and also your willingness to collaborate or even hire teachers, if that's the change that they're looking for.
Yeah, I think it's just goes back to empowerment. Like we need to empower women specifically. For me, that's one of my big things. Women in tech. Women in software. But in general, empowering people to try new things if they're not happy. And know that you can succeed. You need to find the right place, but you can succeed and be happy, be paid well and be great.
I couldn't agree more. I think empowering educators, empowering women, empowering our next generation to know that there's lots of options out there for them, besides just staying in one field. And that just because they leave that field, just because a teacher might leave education doesn't mean that they're not still gonna give back to their community in a meaningful way. They might start a STEM program for youth in their community because they have extra time. There's things that teachers, they generally don't just close the door when they leave the classroom. And it's really great hearing from someone like you, who values educators and who is excited to help support maybe the next teacher that's going to leave the classroom and go into something different. I'm really glad to have you on the show today. And I want to share with our listeners that you can connect with Stef on Instagram at the Stef 23 And that's spelled the S T E F 23 Or on LinkedIn as Stef Hogan.
If you liked The Great Teacher Resignation, give us a five star rating and follow us on Instagram, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, and Audible. This episode was written and recorded by me, Alexandra Simon and my co-host JoDee Scissors. Produced by JoDee Scissors. Original Music Emoji by Tubeebackr. Special thanks to our sponsor, Paper Planes Ed.