After going back and forth from the classroom to administration twice, I hope my perspective is worth sharing with teachers and all educators who struggle to find inspiration or meaning in teaching (especially as May gets underway).
I’m a secondary English supervisor. I work with close to 50 teachers, and am particularly close with my high school colleagues. Teaching was a second career for me, and I’ve been a building administrator, a hybrid curriculum leader, and (of course) a classroom teacher, but not necessarily in that order. Having returned to the classroom full time after an administrative job, my perspective on teaching is pretty simple. There is nothing in this business that is more meaningful, influential, or fulfilling, than teaching. Don’t get me wrong, being a principal or administrator of any kind in a school district or system is extremely important, and many times, the work is stressful beyond words as there are so many stakeholders to please at once. Those who do this job well, have my utmost respect.
The most important lesson I can impart to anyone leading, guiding, or supervising teachers is this: Never lose touch with the realities a classroom teacher faces each and every day. As Stephen Covey states in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Seek first to understand.” Having been through it, it’s easy to forget those precious, heart-wrenching moments in a classroom where a child is acting in the present, and a teacher is reaching back from the future to help them steer away from certain consequences that only wisdom can see. It’s easy to forget that while all the texts, materials, documents, and educational rules and guidelines exist to guide the experience, they actually come to life in the classroom through the living, breathing, feeling children, who sometimes bring a cacophony of experiences in with them every day. Finally, it’s easy to forget that the interaction between a teacher and a child is what matters most in a school.
Teachers, I get it. I see it. I know it. And although it may come across differently sometimes, I will never forget what it’s like to stand in front of students every day with the demands of the world on you to make a difference. Despite the demands, the rules, the issues, the craziness, you do make a difference…like no one else.