Education Opinion

Goodbye Hello

By Emmet Rosenfeld — June 15, 2008 3 min read
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Sorry it’s been a while since I last wrote. Along with most of you at this time of year, I’ve been deep in the Stuff. Grading mountains of papers, saying good-byes, grading mountains of papers, distributing yearbooks, calculating final grades, moving stuff out of the room, telling kids to put away their yearbooks, haggling with kids about their final grades, signing yearbooks, exporting grades, going to end of the year luncheons, wondering if I should have changed so-and-so’s grade, hauling boxes of books around… you know. Stuff.

On top of the usual maelstrom, I’m getting ready to transition into my new job as an administrator/teacher. As the wave of leaving crashes around me and washes back down the beach, another wave is coming up right behind it. For example, on our second-to-last contract day, my division is going to a bar for an end o’ the year get-together. I’ll cut out early to make it to a dinner with the new school’s leadership team. From hoisting a beer with the TJ teachers I’ve sat with at lunch every day for three years, I’ll go to hoisting a beer with the folks at Congressional that I’ll be working with every day for what I hope is years to come.

I haven’t had a chance to process this upcoming change so much as run after it. Easing into the role this summer will provide time for further reflection, but I figured I’d take a moment now, before crossing over to the dark side, to reflect on the upcoming shift.

First, I guess I have to stop calling it “the dark side,” or making comments like, “Administrators are people too” (although that one got a good laugh at the faculty luncheon). The jokes reveal an us/them bias that I think is commonly held by classroom teachers, at least in the public sector.

We do the important work of the school, teachers tend to believe, while administrators push papers, waste time with unnecessary meetings, and are driven not by seeing the spark of learning in a child’s eyes but by the latest report on test scores or whatever policy du jour has been handed down from above.

Administrators, I imagine, have their own secret opinions about teachers: they can’t see the big picture, there’s always a whiner in the group, if they only knew what I have to go through with parents to make their lives easier… each side nursing its unspoken laundry list of grievances, while somehow the schools themselves—bustling, dysfunctional families-- keep running, day after day.

At my new gig, I’ll have the unique chance to wear both hats. As an 8th grade English teacher, I’ll still be with kids in the classroom every day, continuing to think about and refine my practice just as I do now—also, I promise, writing about it here, just as long as Teacher will have me.

And, as a real live walkie-talkie wielding administrator, I’ll have unlimited access to colleagues’ classrooms and also to top secret leadership meetings, a perspective that will no doubt broaden this blog’s scope in a way that I hope will interest teachers who wonder, while waving at one while running to the john at 10:23, what that administrator actually does when not standing in the hallway looking officious for a few minutes during passing time.

All this and more to come, but for now as the school year winds down for most of us, I just want to thank you for visiting, and wish Eduholics everywhere a restful summer. Try to balance professional development with pool time (and when that fails, may the pd be good). For my part, I’ll be busy meeting folks and learning the ropes at my new school. Among other projects, I’ll be visiting local academic summer programs with the goal of starting one at Congressional a year from now, and looking into developing a student teacher program with a local university. Lucky there’s a pool on campus…

The opinions expressed in Eduholic are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.