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Fear of Leaving the Classroom

Although this post was written in 2015 for my Education Week Teacher blog, so much of it still resonates for me five years later after having left the classroom and even a traditional school setting.

As a consultant, author, and publisher, I've had the opportunity to impact more students than I ever did while in my own classrooms. That isn't to say I didn't make an impact on my students and/or school community, but it is to say that I couldn't have imagined five years ago, what it would feel like after having taken this risk.

As you read my thoughts from five years ago, think about where you are in your career and what risks you've had to take to be there or what you're afraid of to take a big risk to move to where you want to be. Taking risks does pay off; uncertainty is just hard to navigate sometimes.

13 years of classroom teaching and it's time to shake things up again, but I'm nervous. Trying new opportunities is so exciting, but it can also be terrifying because they are unknown.

I love teaching and I'm good at it, (not to toot my horn or anything), but I know I can do more and really contribute to my school community differently now. It's time for me to help others find their own successes as I have found mine.

Becoming an administrator hasn't been an option for me. I have seen what happens to some administrators once they leave the classroom and the day to day grind of that job isn't what I'm looking for. Leadership can work on many levels, but this particular one just isn't the route

I'm prepared to go.

Even with my choice to do a hybrid role as a classroom teacher and a teacher coach is couched in the reality that I don't think I can be effective at coaching without having one foot in the "teacher" reality.

I know there are many effective coaches out there who don't teach anymore, but for me personally, I need to stay relevant and have a space where teachers can see me engaging with kids I have developed a relationship with rather than just take over someone else's class for a period or two. 

Because I'm already concerned with how my colleagues will treat me in this new role, I need to maintain the credibility I have already by being able to say that I am actually doing what I ask them to try, that I can model it and believe in it.

This makes it easier to accept, don't you think?

My biggest fear about this switch is my ability to help teachers the way I help students knowing that there will be a level of resistance I can easily get around with kids. Adults are full of habits that are harder to break and are often unwilling to try. Making sure that my pedagogy and approach are sound, I'm eager to help teachers develop what they are already doing well in addition to helping implement new school-wide assessing practices.

Here are some things I'd like to accomplish in this new capacity:

  • Develop a rapport with my colleagues where they trust my judgment and feel safe enough to take risks

  • Encourage teachers to visit my classroom, so we can talk about things they want to try and change in their own

  • Listen to teachers about goals they want to set for themselves, so my agenda doesn't impose on their growth

  • Observe as unbiasedly as I can to ensure I get a good sense of teacher strengths before helping to grow

  • Help develop curriculum with my colleagues that put the students at the center of the learning environment and focus strongly on a growth mindset rather than grades.

  • Help implement a school-wide shift away from traditional grading and support staff through this transition

  • Help integrate technology to support student learning and enrich student learning experiences

  • Continue to work on my own pedagogy, so that I too am growing as I'm helping others.

Change is hard but so worthwhile and I'm ready for this one. 

As a teacher, what would you most want help with if you had access to a coach? Please share

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