Friday, February 25, 2011

Soul Searching

Inertia is a powerful force. The problem for me is that I can't tell when the issue is inertia or when it is fear or when it is neither.

A friend at work let me know today about a central office position that will be opening up soon. He suggested it might be a good fit for me.

It is an exciting position. There would be a lot of fun aspects to it and a lot of ways to impact schools. It would be a move up, something that doesn't happen as long as one remains in the classroom.

But, it would be outside of the classroom. In some ways I think that would be really good for me. In other ways I think it would be awful. It would also be outside of my fabulous, wonderful, amazing school. Again, that could be both good and bad.

Leaving my current job means leaving the kids. It means leaving the incredible teachers at my school. It means leaving the opportunities I've gained over the past 13 years, working with interns, supporting new teachers, teaming with colleagues and learning together.

Finally, leaving the classroom means not being a teacher anymore. I'm incredibly proud of the things that I do in the classroom and while I'm in a classroom. I've written an article, presented at conferences, blogged here and elsewhere all while being a classroom teacher. That means a lot to me. This is how I define myself.

Of course, there's no guarantee I'd get the job if I applied for it. That said, how do I know if I should try? My gut leans towards staying where I am, but is that because I'm afraid to take this leap? Is that because it's the easiest thing to do? Or is it because I'm not finished growing here yet?


The Science Goddess said...

A: Don't talk yourself out of a job that you haven't even applied for yet. If you apply and it's offered to you, then you can weigh whether or not to take it.

B: Even if you leave the classroom (even temporarily), you are still a teacher. Just because you don't have a set of little ones in front of you each day doesn't mean that you aren't teaching everyone around you.

C: Getting out of the classroom really helps clarify why you would want to go back. Not to say that you don't love your job now, but being out for a year (or more) gives you the headspace to think deeply about all sorts of things that you want to, but can't because the room for that is (rightly) taken up with kids. This is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it's wonderful and energizing and freeing. On the other hand, you will never get your head completely back into the classroom box. It doesn't mean you won't go back (I did...and probably will again), but your peers may not understand the worldview you've built while you were away.

We can talk more at ASCD. In the meantime, just apply for the job. :)

Jim Randolph said...

That's a tough one, but your post sounds like you kinda want to do it. Science Goddess is right, apply and see if it's offered first and don't forget you can always go back. My wife left teaching to do graduate work thinking she'd want to become a professor and teach future teachers. She was really good at it, but likes the classroom more so decided not to go through with the doctorate. At the time she said she felt like she failed but she's happy to be back in the classroom. She was never that happy with college students. But I'm glad she tried it because she met so many interesting people, learned so many great things and now she KNOWS, where if she'd never tried it she would have never known. Four years later she was back at her old school. So you CAN try new things which might be awesome, and if they're not? You CAN go back.

Monica said...

ok, let's plan on chatting this week...i have to hear more about this! are you at school early any day that you can talk?

Jenny said...

Update: At this point things are totally up in the air. Because of the way this job was created (or is listed or something) it doesn't even have to be announced or have people interview. So, it's not clear that there is any possibility. That said, if there is and the timing can be made to work, I intend to apply.

Science Goddess, As always you are able to clarify things beautifully. Thank you.

Jim, Thank you. My father has always told me that I will regret more the things I don't do, than those I do. That's an important reminder for me.

Monica, What defines early for you? I'm sure we can make something work.