Have you ever wanted a change? To drink deep at the well of Dionysus and run free and wild into the night? Well, the siren call of change is beckoning, tempting me to dive into the deep and dangerous waters of a district position, leaving the safety of my classroom behind.
First, some details to help set the scene. I’ve been teaching for fifteen years, nine primarily as a Spanish teacher and six as primarily an English teacher. Along the way, I’ve acquired a husband, two kids, three cats, one dog and a Masters in Instructional Technology from Kent State. In addition to these years in the classroom, I spent one glorious year as a Technology Integration Support Specialist in Athens, Georgia. (Smack dab in the middle of the Spanish and English gigs.) I loved that job, and in some ways, I wish I’d stayed there, but we were twelve hours from family. When we knew we were having our second child, I felt compelled to move a little closer.
Last summer, the district offered up a new position, that of “Digital Teacher.” I had just finished a horrific year, one where I went home every night asking “Is it me? Is it me?” Our district had rolled out an “online learning” division of our school, one that I had participated in that year as a credit recovery teacher, in addition to my regular English position. I had all kinds of ideas to improve the program. When I interviewed for the position, they said they were more interested in supporting teachers to integrate technology in their teaching. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s helping adults with technology, in a way that does not belittle them as learners. So many people good with technology don’t know how to explain it to others. Well, that’s not me.
I got the job! I contacted all my references, letting them know how much I appreciated their help. The job offer was contingent on the district finding a replacement for me, but I wasn’t worried. How many people out there have an English degree? And then it happened. Because we had lost two English teachers that summer, and because it was three weeks before school started, they couldn’t find a replacement. I started the year, determined to enjoy what might be my last year as an English teacher. The district informed me I’d have to reapply for the digital teacher job next summer.
So here’s my dilemma: this has been my best year yet. There’s lots of reasons why, but the point is, it is great. And the kids are talking up my electives, the ones that I’d never taught before this year, telling their friends to sign up. If I leave now, who will build a community of learners by starting with zombies? Who will demand that they work together, stay focused, and be prepared? Who will care for those lowest levels students, abandoned by all the rest?
Well, even if I stay, it might not be me. My principal is tempting me with the option of maybe, just maybe, teaching the college bound juniors, in a “dual enrollment/college plus” scenario next year. A different type of kid than what I deal with on a daily basis, to be sure.
So, should I leave my high school for a district technology position? I could help so many teachers this way. Or do I stay at my high school, to champion the downtrodden? Or do I teach the “smart kids” so they can receive college credit?