People often assume I went in to school administration because I didn’t like teaching. Honestly, I loved teaching. I continue to miss it. And I was good at it.
Recently a few experiences have reminded me of that–I’ve taken on completing some teacher evaluations back at the high school where I was principal, and today I spent time with a colleague from the first school I ever worked in back in the early 90s.
I came back to evaluation by way of volunteering to help ease the return to work for the husband of my friend who died of cancer recently. Completing that task provided a concrete way to assist, rather than offering the hollow, “let me know if I can do anything” comment. I could do something. And while I entered in to it with the motive of helping him, I’ve found it oddly helpful to me too. I’ve had great conversations about teaching and learning with the teachers I’m working with–many of whom teach in the same field I did. I don’t get that one-to-one interaction with teachers in my current job, and I honestly didn’t realize how much I’ve missed it. I miss working directly with teachers–talking strategy and instructional methods. My work now is more big picture, school-wide stuff and working with principals who in turn take it to teachers and the classroom level. It’s not the same.
But tonight I had the chance to reconnect with the 23-year-old first year teacher I was, seemingly only moments ago. One of my former colleagues is also attending the meeting I’m at this week. We team taught 9th grade and then later served as subject areas specialists in our respective fields. We’ve both moved on, but tonight we talked about kids we still remembered, things we did that worked–really worked–with students, and all the people we knew and loved–or didn’t.
It reminded me how fortunate I was to start my career in a strong district that cared about teaching and learning. And how fortunate I am to have brought those skills with me to another district, in another state that also cares about teaching and learning. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been at this almost twenty years. It seems like only yesterday that I stood quaking in my heels and respectable dress in front of that first class. But they’ve been years well-invested. This career I’ve chosen makes a difference in the world.
Plus my friend says I haven’t changed a bit, and I am definitely going to take her at her word on that!