Being an educator is challenging, but rewarding work. We all get into it for different reasons and we all stay with it for equally as many reasons, but the longer we persist, the harder we have to try to stay relevant and engaged. And sometimes, for some of us, we start to question how to stretch even further.
Of course, none of us wants to descend to the “dark side,” the place that pits us against them, losing sight of the many challenges and expectations of the classroom and dropping initiative after initiative onto our once esteemed colleagues, rather than do it in a humane and positive way.
Leadership does not HAVE to be dark; it can be an opportunity to grow the light we share in the classroom, engaging members of our team and helping them be the best versions of themselves for more students than we can teach on our own.
As a teacher, I never thought I’d leave the classroom, but I knew if I did, I’d be the leader I always wanted, an amalgam of the many leaders I’ve worked under, taking what not to do and what to do and making it my own. But making the decision to leave the classroom wasn’t easy (and it still isn’t easy being out of the classroom a little more than one year and a half into my new role), but the new work is worthwhile, and doing it with integrity makes it easier.
If you are a teacher who has been at it for a while with success, you may experience some of the following signs that a change could be in your future:
(This is a modified list from Teacher to Leader: Finding Your Way as a First-Time Leader without Losing Your Mind)
If you can identify with any of this, trying something new may be the next step. There are lots of leadership opportunities in your current school or in a new position altogether.
Maybe it is time to make a pros and cons sheet and determine if you are ready for leadership. You can start off small, lead a PLC in your school, or join a committee, or start going to conferences and get involved with a local, state, or national professional organization. Feel it out first and see how it feels.
When you’re ready to make the leap, remember, that nothing is permanent, but it will take time. Being in a new role, whether in a community you are familiar with or in a new place, will feel different, maybe even isolating, but that doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong. Give it time. Ask for help and be honest with yourself and the people you are working with. That honesty will go a long way.
Now in my second year of leadership, there are still a lot of growing pains, but the struggles are worth it. Changes are happening, and the relationships I’ve built with my team are the foundation of all of it.
No matter how ready you think you are, there will be moments you question your choice, and that’s OK. Trust yourself and continue to lead from a place of transparency.
What are your biggest fears about leaving your current position? What do you stand to gain? Please share
The opinions expressed in Work in Progress 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.