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Are Educators Project Managers? You bet your class they are!

Are Educators Project Managers? You bet your class they are!

As an educator, you may be asking, what the heck does project management have to do with me or the students I teach. Great question. Read this and you will be surprised. Additionally, I have a great coupon code specifically for educators below.

Definition of a project manager: I will give you my red-neck West Virginian definition- A project manager is anyone that leads or directs a project. Simple right? So what is the definition of a project? OK, I will give the Technopedia definition as well. “A project manager is the person responsible for leading a project from its inception to execution. This includes planning, execution and managing the people, resources and scope of the project.”

Definition of a project: According to the Project Management Institute- the non-profit organization that is the gold standard leader in project management certification, a project is a “…temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources.” (PMBOK® 6th Ed.)

In other words, when you create your lesson plan for the year, you are planning your project. When you execute that plan, you are executing your project. When you test your students, you are monitoring and controlling your project. When the results at the end year are compiled, you are annotating what went right, what went wrong, what you can do differently the next school year.

What is the goal of your project? Maybe as a high school administrator in an urban city, it will be to increase the standardized test scores 5% in the next year. Perhaps it is to increase graduation rates or to close the achievement gap a certain percentage point over the next five years. As a coach, maybe it’s to build your team to make Regionals. As an elementary school teacher teaching English as a Second Language, the end result could be to meet a certain English proficiency level by a certain date in the school year.

For college level educators, it becomes a little clearer. For research universities, every research study is a project. In this situation, college professors may take a more agile approach verses the traditional Waterfall approach. (Read more about the difference here).

Teaching your students to lead projects: In graduate school, we learned a little rote memorization. But largely, it was a project based learning style. A style I grew to love as I learned more through this method than simple rote memorization. What if you as a teacher or school administrator incorporated the principles of project management beginning early in a child’s life through graduation thus creating expert project managers by graduation?

Project based learning according to the ever-reliable site (just kidding) Wikipedia is “a student-centered pedagogy that involves a dynamic classroom approach in which it is believed that students acquire a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems…to produce results” (my emphasis).

K-5 – This may be the foundational years to just practice very basic project skills. Thank back to elementary school and the yearly science fair project. There is a template used to create a hypothesis. Students then test the hypothesis through experimentation. Throughout this “monitoring and controlling” process, students record the results until “deliverable” is verified and validated. Finally, we had to present those results to any gleeful teacher, fellow students, and parents (aka “stakeholders”) willing to watch or listen. Every word I previously used in this example are terms found in project management.

Middle and High School – As students mature, then projects naturally increase in complexity. A major research paper or in the case of some college prep high schools, thesis is mandatory for graduation. Using proper planning, project management tools (such as Trello), writing, proof reading, defending the thesis if required, and finally getting a final grade are all steps in project management.  In science classes, experiments using agile project management may be appropriate.

College – There are too many variables in college depending on major or individual courses of study to list all of the possibilities. But all through college, I used project management tools just to stay on top of the course work. Using a mix of Scrum and Kan Ban, it allowed me to be a full-time student while serving active-duty in the Army! I also have a graduate degree in IT Leadership where project management courses themselves were prerequisite to actual IT project work we did as course-work in later classes.

Now imagine if the students attending college were immersed from Kindergarten through 12th grade in proper project management?

Learn Project Management Yourself and Earn the CAPM in the process. In-class or Online – Weekdays or Weekends. For all educators that can show that they are educators, PMCertDC supports you. We will deeply discount any course in project management taken online or in-class with us in the metro DC area. Simply register for a course and use the coupon code WELUVTEACHERS at checkout. This will equate to several hundred dollars off our already low prices. Again, verification of being an educator will be required at the beginning of the course.

All teachers will, at a minimum, qualify to sit for the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification through PMI. Some may be able to sit for the Project Management Professional (PMP).

Educators always receive 30% off our courses. Simply call (443) 487-6697 – View courses here! 


Nathan J. Kerr, MS, PMP is the co-owner and founder of PMCertDC – Washington D.C.’s metro area premier project management boot camp provider. With our primary location in Tysons, Virginia, we hold classes throughout the Washington D.C. metro area and anywhere online.

We are a proud Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business with a huge impact on the project management world. Visit us at https://pmcertdc.com

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