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After teaching for thirteen years, attending countless hours of professional development and teaching hundreds of kids, I am bored with being in the classroom. I’m not bored with actually teaching children, but I’m more discouraged by the politics that go with what/how/when to teach in the classroom. This boredom slowly crept in, and before I knew it, I was sitting in my classroom trying to figure out what I could do to “spice” things up a bit.I am bored with being in the classroom. Click To Tweet
Morning after morning I would walk into my classroom slightly dreading going into the classroom to teach the same curriculum I had always taught. Sure the kids made my job more interesting, but I wanted to do something more with my experience in education. As I began to review my options in education, I found that my options were limited. I could either move into administration or go to the Central office. At this point in my career, I knew I didn’t want to work in an environment where I sat in an office and had limited contact with students.
I love being in a school working with teachers and students on the brink of adulthood. They make me laugh and in many ways keep me young. So I decided to see if I could find some opportunities to stay in the classroom, but in another capacity. Unfortunately, there were none. After thinking about the degrees, time and professional development I put into my career, I came up with the startling realization that there are virtually no career paths for teachers in the classroom.
This problem leads to talented teachers leaving the classroom, where we’re needed most and can leave our classrooms lacking in talent. So how can we create a real career path for teachers? It’s simple, creating a career path should not only give teachers more opportunities to lead in the classroom but should give them the opportunity to make more money while still spending their time in the classroom.
A career path for a teacher should be one that’s not only rewarding to the teacher, but to the entire school body. Think about these options:
1. Master Teacher- This should be a teacher with at least five years’ experience in the classroom who has proven that they are not only a master of their content area but in the pedagogy of educating children. Master teachers will be the mentors for new teachers and their classrooms should essentially be demonstration classrooms for the district to model effective pedagogy and strategies. Ideally, this position would rotate out by grade level, content level, and teacher needs, but the point is that districts should recognize these teachers as masters of their craft. These teachers demonstrate growth in their students starting by where they’re at in the beginning d the school year and this growth is tied with NOTHING dealing with standardized testing. Instead, the use of portfolios, student/teacher interviews, and other measurable factors should be used during this process.
2. Teacher Evaluators- Teacher evaluators will be the teachers who will use their time evaluating and coaching fellow teachers on their areas of strength. Instead of a principal who may (or may not) have actual classroom experience evaluating you, teacher evaluators will bring classroom experience. They would hold pre-conferences, coaching sessions and post-conference with teachers. While the school’s administration would still ideally do the summative conferences, it would be imperative for there be a teacher to evaluate fellow teachers.
3. Collaborative Teacher- These teacher leaders would work directly with the special education department to make sure that the goals in IEPs are not only reasonable but that there is a true collaboration in the classroom between the General Education and Special Education teacher.
While these positions seem like they would dream jobs for teachers, they would also help retain quality teachers in the classroom for the following reasons:
-These positions should pay at least 40-50% more than a teacher’s regular salary.
-These teacher leaders would be on the same calendars as teachers, with the majority of the summer working independently planning for the following year.
-Teachers would rotate out of the above positions every two years with the option to always to return to the classroom if wanted.
If this model was used, we could really empower teachers at the school level to not only be leaders but to still directly affect what was happening in the classroom. As I look at what the next seventeen years in the classroom will look like for me, I know that opportunities listed above would not only motivate me but re-energize my work with students and teachers.