Reading other participants’ posts in this roundtable discussion about hybrid teacher roles, it occurred to me that I was in the minority for not daydreaming about a role that included administrative duties along with regular teaching. While other teachers envisioned roles in school leadership, instructional leadership, or professional development, the role that I envisioned was simply one that would give me more time to talk with the kids one-on-one.
Briefly, I felt guilty about my lack of administrative aspirations; shouldn’t I be aiming higher? As a teacher, I’m interested in the effects of policy decisions at the state and national levels, but largely in terms of how they trickle down into my classroom. Though I regularly lament the fact that administrators at every level are out of touch with the realities of day-to-day life in the classroom, my aspirations to join them are pretty limited.
I think much of my reluctance stems from a sketchy vision of how this would actually look in a day-to-day way, particularly in terms of having enough time to incorporate these added roles into an already demanding teaching schedule, not to mention having appropriate planning time, professional development, and compensation for these extra duties. Indeed, the question of how all aspects of these hybrid roles can be balanced (and not involve the teacher-administrators regularly staying late into the night or short-changing some of their obligations) seems to be one that everyone thinks is important. But I haven’t seen enough tried and true ways for teachers to simultaneously wear different hats that are replicable on the large scale. There are currently not enough “professional pathways,” as Ariel Sacks put it, in place systemwide to allow teachers more flexibility in how they spend their days.
This question is compounded by the fact that small aspects of what would otherwise be administrative roles are, in many school-districts, rolled into teacher-time—without extra compensation and in ways that cut into planning or tutoring time. In NYC schools, these include mandatory outreach to parents (10 calls per week); weekly grade-team meetings, which include analyzing student work in a “target” group of students, trying different strategies, reporting on results, and taking minutes; required assignment of “periodic assessments” grade-wide so as to analyze data; and weekly meetings about top-down instructional changes and curricular alignment. And that’s not to mention department meetings.
I suspect that some of these commitments, which are already built into my teaching schedule, overlap with the roles of “instructional committees” or “school-climate committees” or “enrichment committees” that Brooke Peters described as having been implemented at some schools where teachers wear administrative hats. In NYC schools, these commitments come with no extra administrative clout or sense of control over what happens in school leadership—but they do take up my prep periods, leaving students peering plaintively through my doorway wondering when I’ll finish my meeting so I can offer them tutoring for their Julius Caesar essays.
In short, I need to see more pathways in place to allow actual hybrid roles for teachers, wherein these added duties represent professional development and growth opportunities—not merely onerous busywork (often designed to comply with some top-down mandate) that ultimately takes away from much-needed time with students.
Ilana Garon is an English teacher at a public high school in the Bronx, N.Y., and holds masters degrees in both English education and fine arts. She is the author of Education Week Teacher‘s View From the Bronx blog.
The opinions expressed in Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable 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.