Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Leaving Admin - a return to Mazenglish

So, ... after eight years as a school administrator, I have decided to leave admin and return to the English classroom full time. I couldn’t be happier about going back to teaching. This past year has taught us all so much, and for me, it was in losing the classroom that I found my way home.

I've now been in education for twenty-eight years, and I've worked in the United States and abroad, in public and private schools, in city and suburban communities, at elementary and middle and high school, as both a teacher and administrator. While I've mostly taught high school English, I am also an education policy geek, as well as an advocate for equity and gifted education. It has been a wonderful career, both enriching and challenging. 

When I first entered administration, I thought I might work through my school and district and perhaps even look toward a state job because I was so engaged and interested in education policy. Yet, my first admin gig was at my current school, where I'd been teaching and my two children would attend. It was undoubtedly the perfect job, for I was a TOSA, an "assistant-to-the-principal" and the GT Coordinator. However, that was only 80% of my job, and I was allowed to keep teaching one section of AP English Lang & Comp. This allowed me to stay connected to kids and content, and it was a boon to the admin team to always have a teacher voice present at the table. 

Over the years, I realized that I had no desire to move on to other positions, especially as my own kids arrived at the high school. And, as I approached the age of fifty and reflected on my career, I realized that I'd always had an inclination to finish my career back in the classroom, though that might be at the next level (as I had been heading toward Ph.D. programs in English when my son was born). And, at this point in my career, I do have some adjunct opportunities, and I am doing more writing, so it only makes sense that writing and the classroom came a calling again. And with one kid already in college, and the other approaching her junior year, it was only natural to start thinking about the admin and the teacher pathways.

So, why now?

Well, it was really the quarantine last year when our world fell apart. I had a truly wonderful AP English Lang & Comp class; it was a sharp group of juniors, many of whom I'd known since they were in middle school. We were having a great year of learning, and I felt like I was still growing and learning to be a better teacher day to day and week to week. And then it was over, and I didn't get to finish the year with them, and I felt like so much was left undone. And it made me really sad; I really missed them and regretted not being able to finish their junior year. And as that feeling sat with me during the summer, I slowly began to realize that I was no longer preferring the admin role to the classroom. So, at the end of July I went to my principal, truly a princi"pal" and a man I trust and respect so deeply, and I told him, "I think I'm done with the admin thing; I'd like to return to the classroom." He supported my decision, though he wondered if perhaps I'd do a 60/40 split and stay on as GT Coordinator. We planned to check in during December.

Well, come August, my professional world turned sideways again, as I was shifted away from my high school and over to our district's new all-online school to help on their admin team. What had been an online 9-12 program with several hundred students became an online K-12 program with more than 10,000 students. All of the high schools in the district lent some staff to help out, and I volunteered to go for my team because with my roles it made the most sense. The hardest part was giving up the one class I'd always taught; so for the past year, for the first time in nearly three decades, I was not teaching English. And I missed it all the more. The time has certainly been a professional challenge, and while I was happy to do it, the experience only reinforced my decision. So, I checked in with my principal in December, and just last week over spring break, we finalized my schedule. I now have roughly nine weeks left as a school administrator.

Next year, I return to my calling, my passion, my art, my love -- I will once again be a teacher.

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