I am getting ready to make a change - a big change. For the past 10 years I have split my day - spending half being a Special Education inclusion teacher and half a day as a Literacy Coach. When Dr. Terri Stahlman first designed this job to lure me to Chets Creek, I thought I was the luckiest teacher in the world - and I was! To be able to have a foot in the classroom and at the same time to have a foot in the professional development field was just too perfect. Over the years, I have sometimes felt like I was actually doing two full time jobs and that I was being pulled too thin in too many directions, but for the most part I have absolutely LOVED every minute of both jobs. I will always love my time in the classroom because I believe it is what I was called to do, but the chance to influence teachers and even to help direct the course of a school has been an unexpected thrill. I am also really proud of the teachers who over the years have chosen to walk this learning journey with me.
Ten years later, many things have intersected to change the direction of what I think I should be doing. The teachers who ten years ago were new and, oh so young, have now matured and are strong teachers in their own right, many who have unbelievable leadership ability. While I have tried to find opportunities for each of them to lead, many of them have now come to that place where they are ready to spread their wings - some of them are ready for much more than the few opportunities that I can arrange. Today Chets Creek attracts teachers who are risk takers, who are willing to think outside of the box and who are deep thinkers of our work. So many of these teachers are ready to lead in a substantial way and I sometimes feel like I am the stumbling block. With me standing in the doorway, it must be hard for them to ever imagine - to ever see beyond - to see that they will have their chance. It is time for me to step aside - you know that whole idea of training someone to be better than yourself - and let them use their skills in leading, training, and coaching. I'll always be there, of course, to support from the sidelines, but it is time for them to shine. They have been trained for a time such as this...
And so...I will not be in an official coaching role next year. Instead I have decided to return to my roots, to the classroom that has been the most satisfying part of my career. Next year I will be trying a new twist on an old idea -something different - something that I have never actually done before. I will be co-teaching in an inclusion classroom where I will also provide the Special Education services. The advantage will be the opportunity to stay with the same students for the entire day. Being a half time Special Education teacher always leaves me with the feeling that I need to do more. On most days, I leave feeling guilty that I have not done enough. However, I haven't been a full-time homeroom teacher for many, many years, and have never played the role of the homeroom teacher and the Special Education teacher at the same time... but there is something that just feels right about this.
Of course, I walk this new road with some fear and trepidation. I think it might be easier to simply sit on my reputation and regally wait for retirement! I think this truly is the road less traveled (and I figure there are probably plenty of reasons for that!) I will lose much of the flexibility that I have come to enjoy such as not having to find a substitute or write sub plans. While I totally enjoyed the control I had with having a class of my own, I didn't really miss much about being a homeroom teacher, except the control I had, when I became an inclusion teacher 13 years ago - such as having to keep a receipt book (they finally took mine away because they said I just didn't take it seriously enough!), and taking up money for everything from lunch, school pictures, tee-shirts to every fund-raiser in the world. I doubt I'll be very good at taking attendance on the computer by 10:00 each morning (I often get distracted with teaching!) and I was never able to get all the forms at the beginning of the year to the right people. Having watched other teachers struggle with the computerized grade book this year, I doubt that's something I will entirely celebrate and enjoy. I'm not much for making books out of pumpkins, designing wreaths, packing Spring baskets for the silent auction and all of the other homeroom-type expectations (although I've always loved the traditions as long as I didn't have to do them!), and I'm pretty boring in a skit! It's the thought of co-teaching with someone that I really like and who has a heart for children, especially those that struggle, that more than makes up for any anxieties that I may have about the homeroom role.
All in all, I think it will be a really good move for me. It's time. I guess I will have to prove once again that I can really teach or maybe I'm just proving that to myself! I do think I will feel more satisfied at the end of each day- knowing I have given all that I have and knowing that I'm making a difference. Having one of the lead roles in the classroom instead of a supporting role is much more responsibility but also much more satifying. I really think I will welcome each new day with a smile. I think I will laugh a whole lot more. And I think I will dance. The clout may be gone, but the heart will be pumping away and I guess that's what I've decided is really what I want it to be all about.