“Just” Teaching

I recently was asked a question by an administrator at another school.  His school is moving to a 1:1 environment in the near future, and the administration of his school is deciding whether or not to require all teachers to use the same platform for communicating with parents/students or allow teachers to choose for themselves or from among certain options. Having sat now in both the teacher’s seat as well as the administrator’s seat, I found it difficult to answer this question.  From a teacher’s standpoint, I like the idea of choice, but from an administrator’s standpoint, it makes it much easier to require a certain platform for all.  And therein lies the rub.

I wish that all teachers could experience at least a year in the seat of an administrator, and I believe all administrators should go back into the classroom from time to time even if only for one class for one semester. What a world of good it would do for communication between the two groups that so often seem to talk past each other if they could walk the proverbial mile in each others’ shoes.  How would such experiences affect school culture and outcomes?  I imagine quite a lot and in quite positive ways.

I feel very fortunate to have been able to spend this year walking between the two worlds of teaching and administration, but I also am very much looking forward to going back into the classroom full time next year. Starting over at a new school will be tough, but I am excited for the challenge.  I am confident that having had this year of leadership will make me a better classroom teacher and stronger member of my new school team.  Most importantly, however, this year in an administrative role confirmed for me that my deepest love and passion, the thing that gives me the most joy of all, is teaching.  (Well, that and reading and writing and talking with other teachers about teaching!)  But, and this is important, I wouldn’t have known that for sure without having “tried my hand” as an administrator.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve enjoyed the work, and I would be open to it in the future. However, it seems to me, at least in this moment now, that I would be more than content to “just” teach for the foreseeable future.

A friend of mine is considering her own jump into an administrative role. She asked me today about my experiences, trying to get a feel for what it will be like if she chooses to move to the other side of the desk.  I tried to be honest and balanced in what I told her, but the truth is she won’t know until she does it.  She won’t know if it’s for her until she tries it.  And I hope she does.  I hope she gets the chance to experience what it is like to be an administrator even if just for a year or two, for it can only make her a better educator all around.  If and when she does take on a leadership role, I hope her fellow colleagues are kind and supportive and encouraging with her…as they were with me, even when I made mistakes, which was often! 🙂  Thanks, my friends.

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