I want to be taken seriously as an educator. I realized this recently while responding to an interview question for summer school principal. The question was, “why did you apply for this job?” I paused, then out of my mouth came, “I want to be taken seriously as an educator and administrator in this school district and I see this job as an opportunity for growth.” Stunned silence. I continued, “I consider myself to be my principal’s ‘right hand man’ responsible for the campus when he is away from school.” Apparently, this was not what the panel expected to hear.
The panel was composed of four comprehensive high school principals, and my district CTE supervisor. The next day my principal stopped me outside my office to let me know that he had selected me for the job. I explained during the interview that I was not available to work the whole assignment due to a conference and family vacation plans. He told me that he also selected another district administrator to split the assignment with me. Later, in an email he sent out to a colleague he referred to me as his, “right hand man.” Something changed in that interview.
I pivoted. Through all the reflective writing, teaching the graduate level preliminary teacher credential courses, 20 years of public middle and high school classroom experience, two master’s degrees, and a year and half of administration, I never said, “I am serious about being an educator.” I think this is something that all educators should stop and do right now because being an educator is a serious job. Education is about being committed to teaching people how to improve their lives. Education is about making a positive difference. Education is about growth and change. Education is important and necessary right now.
February 14, 2017
I wrote Don’t Quit to encourage new teachers to stay in the game. I was teaching a graduate course at the time and not yet an administrator. My perspective is different now, but not my message. Now I see young teachers in the early years of their career struggle with the daily grind of lesson planning, standards requirements, and student interaction. I see them fall and get up again and again and again. I see the wear on their faces and on their bodies. Teaching is hard work, and the reality of the classroom can be like hitting a wall.
Struggling teacher, I encourage you to look at the students in your classroom. You are their learning guide for life. More important than the content that you teach is the way you teach young people to learn and live. They are watching you struggle. They know it is difficult. They understand that you care. They want you to succeed. Yes, they will challenge you; that’s their job. You are there to meet their challenges and guide them to a place of better understanding and achievement. You are their lifeline; and they are the largest source of inspiration in your life.
So be inspired. If you give up, they will too. They don’t challenge you to trip you up; they challenge you to test your mettle. It is the greatest of honors to be their teacher in your classroom today. You are molding and shaping their lives. No, not everyone can teach – but you can! You made the decision to teach and have lasted this long. You are there on purpose. Don’t quit on the students and they will not quit on you. Trust me, I know, and so does the teacher in the classroom next door. Go ask them today.