I left the classroom…but not the students

It’s been one year since I left the classroom as a HS English teacher. It was a difficult decision but I really enjoy my role as our district’s K-12 Tech Staff Developer.

Still, I have constantly been asked throughout this year: Do you miss the students?

I guess it is common to think that we leave the students behind when they are no longer in front of us in a class…but that thinking couldn’t be farther from the truth. Did I miss having 110 students in my classes that I could interact with everyday and watch them learn and grow? Well of course I did. Did I miss our conversations in class and those breakthrough moments? Yes!

But I didn’t leave the students. I met with teachers, administrators, curriculum supervisors, and various members of our tech dept. All of those conversations centered around students.

What instructional strategies and integrated technology could our teachers use to reach students? How could our new curriculum best support all levels of our students? What staff in service and training activities could we do that would directly impact our students? In what ways could our 1-to-1 initiative give students opportunities to succeed beyond the classroom?

These conversations, planning meetings, workshops, trainings, and implementations weren’t easy…but that’s a good thing. They were about our students, and for our students.

I was able to get into over 100 classrooms this year in some capacity. Ideas that I wish I could have done as a teacher were now being implemented by veteran teachers and first-year teachers. Was my impact the same? I’m not sure. But I do know I was impacted. Before I could rarely see another teacher work with students. This year my job gave me perspective and pride in seeing the great work of my colleagues. I have the most optimistic view on education after watching my peers care so much for their students this year.

I also stayed involved in extracurricular activities. I coached football (my fourth season as head coach) and boys lacrosse (sixth season as head coach). I also was club sponsor for our schools FANS club which raises school spirit and supports all students in every activity.

I guess I could have taken this position and backed out of most interaction with students. That’s an option for many staff development and adminstrative jobs. But that also would have been my choice. Just as I had a choice to stay focused on students so does every school employee.

I chose the students. And I will always make that choice wherever my career takes me.

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