Friday, 17 March 2017

That Change will do you Good ... or maybe not.

I am in the back-end of a wonderful March Break. I have had time with my wife, family and friends. I have gone hiking, played hockey, taken care of paperwork, had a haircut, eaten royally and slept-in. I am feeling fantastically recharged and I am looking forward to Monday and the final stretch of the school year. I also have a group interview on Monday evening and my first chance to secure a new role next September.

I recently applied for a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) role as an Instructional Coach for elementary students. If successful, I would be assigned to a small family of schools (likely 3 or 4) that are geographically close to one another.  I would then make myself available to work with teachers and their classrooms in a variety of ways:

  • supporting teacher development (particularly in literacy & math),
  • co-teaching and co-planning collaborative inquiry opportunities,
  • helping create meaningful cross-curricular connections,
  • differentiating instruction for students,  
  • building capacity with new challenges (ex: coding or computational thinking),
  • reviewing good pedagogy and research based practices, and
  • supporting school improvement plans and board wide initiatives.

At least that is what I think I would be doing based on the memorandum I read and the things I have seen from our school’s instructional coaches - past and present. I will get a deeper insight next Tuesday when I shadow a colleague who is currently in a coaching role. I know I will also learn more about the expectations during my group interview on Monday. I wish I could have arranged those two events in the opposite order...oh well.

I’m not particularly stressed about the interview. Like most teachers, I am an outgoing, Type A personality who loves to talk and share. Additionally, I sincerely believe I have much to offer, and I know I would put my full effort into any opportunity. I guess, if anything, I am being reflective. This is the reason for this post. I need to take a few minutes to organize the main pros and cons that surround this decision.

1./ I know that new opportunities will invigorate my career.
2./ More Professional Development (PD) opportunities will be available.
3./ Other coaches have raved about the experience.
4./ New colleagues mean new growth.
5./ After 6 years in the same school/division, I should make a change.
6./ Different classes in different divisions sounds exciting.
7./ I am genuinely excited about sharing my passion with other colleagues.
8./ My school is growing (again) and I might be back in a portable….ugh!

1./ I really like my classroom, school, students and colleagues.
2./ I do not like packing and moving and storing things.
3./ Not having my own class for a year is something I might miss.
4./ I won’t be able to coach sports when in this role.
5./ My current program is sweet, complete and ready to go next year.
6./ This position means more driving and I am currently 2 km from my school.
7./ Additional driving means added wear & tear on my vehicle and greater risk.
8./ A placement out in the county means treacherous winter driving.

Okay, I realize that there is theme “driving” my con list - but these are legitimate concerns that I need to consider and, most importantly, justify to my loved ones.

I’ll also admit that my current grade five group is making this a tough decision. They are among of the kindest, funniest and smartest bunch of kids with whom I’ve ever had the opportunity to work. We are doing so many cool things and I have been part of incredible growth (mine and theirs).  Additionally, they have helped me immeasurably as I continued to explore, and build my comfort with, coding and computational thinking. We launch Genius Hour next week and, as my friends will attest, I can’t stop talking about the great ideas that they are exploring.

Now, I realize they will not be my students next year. I guess it is the recognition that leaving the classroom is something I am afraid I will regret. As ridiculous as it sounds, I would have hated to have missed out on this particular year of teaching - even though I wouldn’t have known what I was missing.

The March theme at Eagle Heights is Optimism and I have try to be a “glass half full” kind of guy. Additionally, I haven’t even been offered the job yet. I do know that I need a change and, if this doesn’t pan out, I will certainly investigate a new school or even grade level. Regardless, I get three more months with my Rockstar Class and lots of new opportunities in my future. Thanks for reading, I hope to share my experiences soon.