While I try to be open, honest and transparent with my sharing on this blog and with my thoughts on education, I rarely write about my actual school. I do this mostly out of respect for the kids in my classroom and for my employer. Sharing and openness need to have limits when it comes to kids, families and the people I work with.
But of course there are always exceptions to the rule and this post is one of them. My school is searching for a principal. Our principal is moving to a different school in a different community. He wants to get back in to the classroom. I have no problem with this. In fact, I applaud him for being gutsy enough to give up the “power” of administration and realizing where he wants to work.
Several years ago, when the principalship at my school was last open, I applied for the job. I had actually wanted to move into administration for a number of years. I had completed my master’s degree and my administration courses. In a small community and a small school, these opportunities don’t come around very often so I jumped and applied. I was widely expected to get the job. But I didn’t. Fair and square, for whatever their reasons might have been, the hiring committee didn’t give me the job.
Of course I was hurt. I had applied for the job so obviously I wanted it. When I didn’t get it, it took some soul searching. I had wanted to break into administration for a number of years and now the chance had come and I had been passed by.
When the job came open again this time, I read the ad, took a few days to think about and then – did nothing.
In the two years since the last time the job had come open I learned something. And that something is that I love kids and teaching. I always knew that I enjoyed teaching. I’ve been at it for almost 20 years. Kids make me laugh some days and on others they make me cry. I love to see a face light up when something new finally sinks in and I love to see them challenged. I’ve learned in the past two years that I would rather spend a frustrating math class with a group of kids who are struggling with a concept than I would spend it fighting with a bus schedule or some other item of administration. I am not an administrator and I’m OK with that.
I started teaching in September of 1993 and my classroom today is unrecognizable from that time. I’ve still got kids and desks and tables, but I’ve got a whole host of new and different tools that take us in different directions, bring us into contact with other people and let us be curious about things we never could be in the past. Anyone who tells you that teaching and classrooms never change isn’t trying hard enough.
In the time that I’ve been heavily involved with edtech, a lot of the people I started working with as classroom teachers have moved into other jobs. They are consultants and coordinators and administrators and directors of all different kinds. Some of them have left education altogether and are working in the private sector or have completely dropped out of sight. I wish them all well in new and different roles.
But I’m going to stay in my classroom with all its struggles, warts and limitations. I think it is important that people with experience working with technology, with twenty first century curriculum design and who are willing to take chances with kids stay there. We need to find ways to keep passionate teachers in classrooms with kids.
Classroom teachers need to keep sharing what they are doing. We need to keep pushing open the doors of our learning spaces. Assignments need to be shared and critiqued, videos need to be shot and pictures need to be taken for us all to see. We need more teachers sharing their work at conferences and webinars. We need good assignments and curriculum examples for us all to see and learn from. We need more collaboration between classrooms, kids and teachers.
I turned 44 a few weeks ago and I expect to be able to retire from teaching in about 11 years. My hope is that things will change even faster over that time and I’ll have even more opportunities to teach and learn with others around the world.