By Teachers, For Teachers
I know an amazing teacher. She’s brilliant, creative, innovative, organized, artistic, and articulate. She’s a storyteller, a singer, and an inspiring performer in front of her sixth grade English Language Arts classes. Her students thrive in her classroom and make the transition from elementary to middle school with barely a bump in the road. They’re happy, and she’s happy.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is the pressure. I’m not referring to the pressure of standardized testing or teacher evaluation or implementing new curriculum. Sure, those are concerning to teachers who work hard to be the best they can be. But I’m referring to the pressure she puts on herself and that she feels from other educators and actually, the WORLD! The pressure is there for this teacher to move on. You see, she’s been teaching thirteen years. And she’s good at it. That must mean she’s due for a promotion. That must mean she’s wasting her talents remaining in a classroom full of kids.
Should she return to graduate school and study to be an administrator? Should she seek out an instructional coach position, move to the Central Office and lead curriculum for the district? Surely there is a way that this amazing teacher can move up in the ranks of education, make more money, and earn more respect.
But there’s one little issue. My friend the amazing teacher wants to teach.
She wants to teach.
So why should she have to consider leaving the classroom she loves in order to earn respect in this profession? Can she be a leader and impact the profession without becoming a school administrator or another educator who works outside of the classroom?
She can. I told her she has one thing that so many of us who work in education no longer have. She has that one thing that educators lose the minute they pack up their classrooms and pull the student work off the walls.
She has credibility.
Because my friend is still in the classroom, working with kids every day, struggling with the implementation of new curriculum and, currently, introducing a 1:1 initiative that is wonderful and exasperating at the same time, she’s the expert.
And because she’s the expert, the world needs to hear from her. So my message to my friend, and to all teachers currently in the classroom: SHARE. I encourage you to write a blog (or a book), post on social media, speak to pre-service teachers, email legislators…in short, get the word out about what you see day-to-day in your classrooms.
As the experts, you are the leaders in the profession, and you are the ones deserving of the most respect, regardless of where you fall on the salary scale.
It isn’t necessary to leave the classroom to make an impact. But it is important that you share what you know. Start here. Leave a comment , and tell us about your teaching and your students. You have a story to share…
Cindi Rigsbee is a National Board Certified English Language Arts teacher currently “on loan” to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction where she facilitates educator recruitment and retention initiatives. The author of Finding Mrs. Warnecke: The Difference Teachers Make, Cindi blogs on education at cindirigsbee.com.