"You'll have to wheel me out of this classroom."
Eight years ago I entered this school with the intention of staying in room 105 until retirement. My position at Powell County High School is my dream job; the best of both worlds, geosciences and teaching. I have great colleagues, amazing science supplies, 1:1 technology, and a classroom that would make you think you're in a teenager's bedroom (just cleaner). So, why would I think about leaving?
With nine years in education, I've learned a great deal about the education and school system. I've also learned how to challenge myself, push myself to grow, and how to successfully make fundamental changes happen in my classroom. As a result, I've learned how to be a teacher leader. According to Dempsey (1992) in a study on teacher leadership, teacher leaders possess four characteristics. Teacher leaders are reflective, scholarly, collaborative, and growth-oriented (Eargle, 2013). In other words, in the 21st century, teacher leaders develop their practice by eliminating isolation, globalizing their professional development and methods, and continually challenging their mindset. All of which are characteristics I feel I now possess and continue to develop through my experiences as an educator.
Teacher leadership can be magical. However, like Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon a Time would say, "Magic always comes with a price." The price, at least for me, is feeling as if my current teaching position has a leadership lid. What I mean by the term leadership lid is I'm in a position where I will continue to be a science teacher. I will continue to grow in this field, but in terms of leadership development in my school I've maxed out. Therefore, to continue to grow as an educator and eventually make the transition to the collegiate level, I must put myself in situations where I can develop the skills I need to enter teacher preparation.
Taking A Leap
Three weeks ago, I partially followed through with my initial intentions and wheeled myself and my chair out of my classroom and down the hallway. That's right, I'm going to try my hand at instructional coaching. During my sabbatical, I will be working as a BetterLesson Blended Learning Instructional Coach. I will be on a team of amazing coaches and colleagues who I know, from past experience, will challenge me, help me reflect and develop the skills I need for my next transition. I'm excited!
Until We Meet Again...
Powell County High School, until we meet again, it has been great teaching and learning with and from you. Thank you to everyone who over the years has helped me grow into the teacher leader I am today. I am forever grateful!
And so, I go confidently forward with big dreams in sight and my experiences in my heart. See you on the flip side!
My colleagues and administrators at PCHS. I'll miss all of you next year!
Dempsey, R. (1992). Teachers as leaders: Towards a conceptual framework. Teaching Education, 5(1), 113-120.
Eargle, J. (2013). I'm not a bystander: Developing teacher leadership in a rural school-university collaboration. University of South Carolina, 23-33.