Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How Not To Thank a Teacher

Don't Recommend that a Teacher becomes an Administrator*

After helping a colleague or having my class observed by an outsider, I often find myself fielding a compliment that actually really irks me. 

“So when are you going to become an administrator?!”

Paraprofessionals from my own class and throughout the school, who know I enjoy working with my students, often come up to me and ask why I am not an administrator. For years they have seen the best teachers move up and out and I think they are confused about why I choose to stick around. It’s a huge compliment from them.

I know they mean it in a good way and I am flattered. But I am also one of those big picture thinkers and my mind sets off on why it is that the only way to recognize a good teacher is to make them an administrator, where most of their day will be spent not with students. Why can’t I just be a really good teacher and be recognized for that? I would eventually love a position as a teacher leader, but my school is just not structured that way yet.

My natural reply is to thank the giver of the compliment and then explain that I love what I do and I am happy where I am. I could not imagine spending my days not with my students. I enjoy the unique challenges of managing a classroom and that every school year is a puzzle that I slowly, but surely, put together as I structure opportunities for my students to learn from each other, themselves and me.

Not wanting to be an administrator is not knocking administrators. I appreciate that good administrators make space for teachers to do their best work. But I think that its important to realize that a teacher’s craft and an administrator’s craft are very different, even though they are both working in the best interest of students.

If we really want to thank teachers during National Teacher Appreciation Week, we need to think about how we can respect the particular talent of being able to teach a room full of young students.

Have you ever received this “compliment”? How does it make you feel? How have you replied?

*unless having a discussion on career paths

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