Last week, I packed up my classroom after ten years of teaching to begin a new chapter in my career as an elementary school assistant principal/gifted coordinator. Perhaps because these years have been so full, I was surprised that the boxes and bags I packed fit so easily into the trunk of my car.
What am I taking from my teaching experience to my new role as an administrator? I prefer to travel light, so I’ll condense it down to one item – respect for this beautiful, challenging, and impactful profession.
Whether making a U-Turn or simply changing lanes, it can be difficult to take a new road in life. Years ago, when I “packed up” my career as a lawyer to follow my dream of becoming an elementary school teacher, I worried that others would think I “failed in the law.” When I shared this concern with my education program advisor, his wise response emboldened me: “Yes, they will…Do it anyway.”
So I did it anyway. And over the last ten years, I have developed a profound respect for teaching. A teacher’s work is never done, and there is always more to learn.
As a teacher, I’ve learned that a positive classroom community that welcomes diversity and builds trust is essential for learning. Without such a community, instruction is like dancing on air, and it can’t last very long.
Moreover, I’ve discovered that when students come to school, teachers cannot always “see” their joys and sorrows. We do not see all of our students’ interactions with others, and we may even have difficulty seeing their talents, struggles, and obstacles that they have already overcome. When working with students, I have learned to acknowledge these sight limitations.
But despite such challenges, I’ve found that teachers can and do make a difference, and it is the wonderful relationships we build with students, families, parents and colleagues that make it all happen.
As I pack up my classroom, I am bringing along a respect for teachers everywhere.
I don’t have many boxes or bags, but my heart is full to bursting.