At some point in your life, you made a decision to become an educator. You knew that you would be overworked and underpaid. You knew that you would have students who tested every bit of your patience. You knew that you would have parents that didn’t agree with you.
But you did it anyway. Despite the hard work, that student that was such a challenge is actually the one you will talk about for the rest of your career. The one you will be most curious about and the one whose parents tell you “If it wasn’t for you, he wouldn’t want to come to school.” You found that at the end of the day most parents are just trying to figure out what’s best for their students. You became a parent, and you understood. You made the decision to become an educator knowing there wasn’t going to be a whole lot in it for you.
Someone may have asked you at some point “Why are you a teacher? You could have been a doctor or lawyer.” What they are really saying is that you are too smart to be a teacher. Too smart to be in a profession where you would be lost in the crowd, where there is little reward or compensation, and where people don’t view you as a professional. Where people will tell you how to do your job, because they don’t trust that you can do it on your own.
Maybe you do want something more, for greater rewards or recognition, compensation, or to be promoted in your organization. You’ve only got one way to go: administration. You find that you are a little further away from students, which is why you got into it in the first place. Those moments from the field that keep you invigorated, the way students light up when they are excited about a subject or when they win the academic competition they have worked on all year, those moments become fewer & fewer the further up the ladder you go. You’re not as close to them, but you do get to see many more of them, and you can hopefully make them happen for more students, more often. Administrators, I hope that you lead teachers with your same passion that you can inspire, support, and empower.
We’ve got a lot of problems. Bureaucracy, lack of resources, lack of time, lack of support. Always lack. It’s time we flipped this deficit thinking of ourselves and think in terms of abundance. If we all carry around the weight of the whole system on our shoulders it’s amazing that we come to work at all. What if you had abundant resources? Abundant time? Abundant support? What if you could work beyond the constraints of the bureaucracy to be your fullest self? To reach your ultimate potential as an educator and as a person?
You’ve picked a profession that will leak into all areas of your life. It’s the paper you grade while you watch Scandal, but you put it down and have to start over because who are we kidding, it’s really hard to do anything while watching Scandal. It’s the kid you can’t stop thinking about because you could have done more to help them. It’s the professional organizations you’re involved in or the twelve committees you’ve been asked to lead.
I am writing this blog to give you back your time, to help you unlock the resources that are available to you, and to give you the tools to push through the madness to a place where you can reconnect to the reasons you made the decision to become an educator in the first place. It is my hope that you will find tools here that will help you move into a new career for yourself. One where you are empowered, supported, and can create the best possible education for your students and the best life for yourself. Despite the jungle of paperwork, committee meetings, emails and policies-this is still the best gig around. My hope is that together we can remember this on even the toughest days.
Education careers are tough. These entries are dedicated to making the lives of educators easier and empowering those who have chosen this path to reach their potential in work and life.