A little over a year ago I blogged that I was leaving my classroom to accept a consultant position with my school division. I’ve been in this position for almost a year. And in all honesty, it’s been a struggle. In fact, this past year has probably been the most difficult year of my teaching career.
At first I thought it might be an identity thing. I knew how to be a teacher, but had no identity as a consultant. Maybe it would go away. But the truth is, it hasn’t. In December, I let both my coordinator and my superintendent know that I was deeply struggling with being a consultant. However, I couldn’t specifically pinpoint the exact problem. I work with great people. I’ve learned a ton. I’m treated with respect. What more could anyone want?
After having the conversation with my boss, I spent the next three days in bed sick, and almost every waking moment I spent pondering this dilemma. What exactly is wrong?
And then it hit me — it’s not the position; it’s me. Everyday since I’ve left my classroom, I’ve missed it. Everyday I have missed kids. I miss their energy and enthusiasm, their optimisim. Their quirks. Their struggles. Their hugs. I miss the energy and noise of a school. And even though I work in classrooms, those kids are never mine. They always belong to someone else.
Beyond this I miss pushing the envelope, trying what’s new. Innovating. Failing. And learning in the most intense way I’ve ever experienced. I love taking risks, problem-solving the glitches and the intensity it requires of my brain. It makes me feel alive.
And as hard as this year has been, I don’t regret it. I’ve learned so much about teaching & schools that I never could have learned in my classroom. I’ve learned in vivid, sometimes startling ways, how important the administration of a school is for setting the tone, creating the culture, and supporting change. I’ve learned how curriculum, instruction and assessment intersect in valuable ways with student support to provide an education that matters for all. I work with some of the most amazing people. Consultants who are incredibly generous and talented, and I have learned so much from so many of them. I’ve learned that we do so many great things in elementary school to support students that all but disappear by high school, and in order for our kids to be successful, they need to continue.
But I’ve also come to realize that I need to go back to the classroom. At this point, I don’t know exactly what this will look like or what the timeline will be or even where I’ll end up. But I’m open to whatever possibilties open up.
My ideal would be to move into an administrative role in a K-8 school in the fall, so that I can still teach part-time. And I have reasons for this. I’ve heard many times from skeptics that I can do this inquiry/pbl thing because I teach older students. I want to prove them wrong. I want be able to work in grade 1 classrooms to create pbl & blended learning environments. And I’m excited at the possibility of working in middle years to foster independence & responsibility for their own learning and create thin walls in our classroom, so they can collaborate with classrooms elsewhere.
At this point I have very few answers. And sometimes that feels a bit scary. But I trust that I’ll end up where I belong.
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Ralph Waldo Emerson