In a few paragraphs

the 408 sums up the place where I live and have lived for, oh, maybe four or five years now.  Yes.  This is how I feel.  And there are enough of us out there who have stayed, want to stay longer, take the idea of teaching as a profession seriously, and yet constantly teeter on the edge of leaving because the way things work now leaves so many of our personal and professional needs unmet.  Quibble about the solutions but start listening because when those who can’t quit and those who can and have for years retire, we’ll either be here… or we won’t.

Related: I am thinking about submitting a resume to apply for a position as a school director at TFA summer institute this coming summer.  Or maybe curriculum specialist.  To cross some possibilities off the list or put them back on the list in bolder print.  Still, I’m playing my friend Allanna’s game in my head: good idea/bad idea? Good idea: practice leadership but only for a few weeks.  Bad idea: give up the kind of summer that helps me feel sane.  Good idea: make a few thousand extra (after paying $1000 for emergency vet care yesterday, this feels like an even better idea!).  Bad idea: this thing would start the day after school gets out!

Related: Talking about the school director job with some colleagues led to the conclusion, shared by all of us, that (a) It’s unbelievable how young people become principals these days.  I mean, three, four years of teaching, all in the same school, and you think you know 1/10th of enough to run a school?  To even be taken seriously?  Eight years in, the possibility that it could, one day, happen, has only begun to make any sense.  And I’m not talking about next year or the year after, either.  My principal says, have some kids first.  My friend says, maybe after 15 years of teaching.  And no way in hell will you find me in one of those principal fast-track programs.  If it happens, it’s going to happen after a year or two years in a reputable, rigorous school leadership program.  And (b) you can’t be a principal for twenty-five years! (at least not in NYC).  That’s crazy thinking.  I can’t explain this one: it’s just true.

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10 Comments

Filed under education, New York, teaching, what I read

10 responses to “In a few paragraphs

  1. X

    I know I’m missing the point here, but I hope your cat is okay.

  2. I hope your cat is okay too!

    I do think that there are some people whose strengths lend themselves more to administrative work than teaching. not that they’re bad teachers, but that they ARE good at working with other adults, sustaining a vision, making big-picture decisions. in that sense I don’t think there should be some mandatory amount of teaching experience they should have before moving to administration.

    but maybe the fact that I know that will *never* be me makes it harder for me to imagine realistically.

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  4. I wonder if rabi really thinks that all of those early-career teachers becoming administrators are doing it because they are good at working with adults, sustaining a vision, making big picture decisions, etc. The ones in my colleague’s fast-track program all say they are there for the increased pay. Period.

  5. nope, I don’t think ALL of them fit into any one characterization. but I think SOME of them fit into mine. hence my use of the word “some.” 🙂

  6. I would certainly suggest considering the TFA summer positions. Yes, losing part of the summer is a loss, but I have found my continued involvement in with the NYCTF to truly reinforce my commitment to the mission of the program while enhancing my teaching practice. I say go for it.

  7. You’re right on here: “Quibble about the solutions but start listening because when those who can’t quit and those who can and have for years retire, we’ll either be here… or we won’t.”

    We’re not the ones who couldn’t hack it. We’re not the ones who don’t love it. We’re not the ones who burned out and moved on. We’re trying like hell to keep things moving, keep things going, and we’re the ones whose departure will excerbate a growing gap in staff-ages, where everyone is either >20 years experiences or <3.

    That said, the summer leadership/ management then back to teaching is my move as well, (although I work with Oakland Teaching Fellows, not TFA). I think a one-summer-on, one-summer-off rotation helps keep ya sane.

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  9. Nine years in the classroom — with several administrative functions included… Teachers College admin program… principal at 35 years old. Doing pretty well so far… but I do worry about the longevity issue, and I do think I left things unfinished in the classroom.

    Interesting thoughts.

  10. Texas Teacher

    I have often seen the problem of administrators who are way to young and lack expereince becoming building principals.

    One of my “Ten Things I would order if I were made the all-powerful Education Wizard of Oz and had complete power over the US education system list” that all teachers mentally keep would be as follows: “No person shall even apply to a principal certification program with not less than TEN years in the classroom, at TWO different levels.”

    I am from the north and I did not decide to enter teaching until my late 20’s. I was recruited at a job fair by a young teacher also from my area who had moved to Texas for her first job as well. I was hired and ended up in her school and on her team.

    At one point she told me that her plan was “Five years in the classroom; five years as an AP; five years as a building principal; then boom upper level admin (where the real money is made with almost no accountability and even less work, as we veterans sadly know)”

    She and I taught at a small town/suburban district near Houston. We were a middle class/working class district, on the poorer side but improving. She was a dynamite language arts teacher. She really pushed those poor and middle class kids and the students adored her.

    Her plan is ahead of schedule. Five years in the classroom (check) two years as an AP at our district’s (sad to say but true) lily white-gated community elementary; less than two years as building principal at a middle school in a more rural district and then hired at a decent elementary in a good school district closer to Houston. Not even thirty years old and her own building!

    As I said, shame of it was she was a great teacher.!

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