An opportunity recently presented itself where I might be able to assist students taking French classes online next year. This would be an opportunity for us to provide additional resources to our students who are not able to take a class with one of our teachers due to staffing shortages. At the same time, it would allow me the opportunity to do what I feel that I do best - connect with students and instill a love of language and communication. When this solution was presented to the administration, however, it was dismissed. The reason? The administrator in question did not want me to "take that step back."
This led me to a series of thoughts:
- Was I such a bad teacher that I wasn't allowed back with students? I know that this is ridiculous, but if you know me, you know that I doubt myself frequently (tout le temps).
- Why is being a teacher a "step back"? I became a teacher to teach students. While I have stepped out of the classroom, that is still my mission and my responsibility: to help educate the students at my school. Nor do I see my role now as ITS as having taken a "step up." If anything, it was simply a sideways step into the gray and nebulous area of an undefined role that can evidently take on responsibility for anything with electricity.
- When we try to encourage others to be the version of themselves that we know they are capable of, are we telling them that who they are isn't good enough? At heart, I know that this administrator was indicating that they think that I can do more good for our school by serving all teachers, which impacts all students. But with the way it was worded ("step back"), I can (and did) understand it to mean that the person I see myself as is not good enough and that I need to be a different person. As educators, we have great influence over the students in our classes, especially those who ask us for advice. We, therefore, have a responsibility to ensure that we encourage them to reach their full potential while not subtly telling them who they are now or who they want to become is not "good enough."
At this point, I'm not sure how we do that easily. It may be enough to just be aware of our words and how we communicate with others. As we move through life, it's important not to appear to think ourselves superior to those who choose to remain in a place that we chose to leave. What is right for one isn't right for all, but that doesn't make one better than another. We have such a tendency to see everything as a hierarchy. In education, though, that hierarchy is sometimes confused and we forget that the classroom teacher is the most important piece of the puzzle. Without teachers, who would teach the students? Who would I help with technology? Who would administrators serve?