Teaching Opinion

Have You Reviewed Your Job Description Lately?

By Starr Sackstein — June 28, 2018 3 min read
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My job description, as listed from when I was hired is four pages long, single-spaced. It attends to all matters of my job from strategic direction and school development to how I will be assessed on my performance.

It was a lot to take in when I was first hired and as I reflected on my role as I performed it this year, it really helped me to focus on my strengths and area of need.

Recently, as an end of year activity to begin a conversation about my performance with my team leader, I was asked to review my job description as a part of my reflection in terms of my performance and also to help set goals for next year, as well as to discover areas of need for more support from him and others on the team.

What I learned as I annotated the document (which I admittedly haven’t looked at since December, I think), is that there are some things I can speak to directly and there are other things that I’m not really sure of what they mean. And since the activity asked me to address what areas of my role are addressed in the description and if there are areas that need to be added and/or omitted, I really started digging into the purpose of my position.

For me, the more important part of my function is to build capacity, both in the teachers with whom I work and with the students who are entrusted to their care. That means I need to know what kind of learning is happening in every classroom in our department.

I’m not one for making excuses, so I’m not going to say that there’s a reason I can’t speak to every classroom except that, this year, I was prioritizing building relationships in order to build capacity as well as learning the culture of the school and getting a sense of what has been expected in the past and how I can start to help adjust the tide.

Each relationship I built this year (some more successfully than others), helped me to understand what they consider important, how risk-averse they may be and what their priorities are in the classroom. The ones I got closest to, I can speak to their strengths and collaborative skills and also to the students in their spaces.

The ones I didn’t get close to, I need to prioritize for next year and I’ve already devised a plan for the start of the year. Over the summer as I consider the goals of the department, I want to make a schedule for goals meetings whether or not the teachers fall on my first evaluation list. Having this one on one, face to face opportunity at the beginning of the year will give me the chance to set the tone, look in the eyes of each our team members and provide them an affirmation of support as well as better understanding of their personal goals for this school year.

This year was a big change for me and since I always fight a level of perfectionism within myself, my inner critic is always ready to point out what I haven’t done as well as I could. I want to be transparent about this with my team and let them see that I struggle, but am solution oriented and invested in a profound way to each of their successes.

Preparing for this conversation, also gave me an opportunity to see in writing, the things I did well. As I’ve mentioned throughout the year, there are many crossovers in leadership from teacher leadership and classroom education. Empowering those I work with, for one is something I’ve tried hard to do. Avoiding directives was another task I tried to accomplish. It is always important for the team to know that I support their decisions where I can. I must put my faith in their judgment since they are the ones in the classrooms with the children we are responsible for educating... all children in our schools.

Ultimately, as reflection often does, it has led me down a rabbit-hole of more questions that I hope will shed light on the path to take for next year as the journey continues. I’d like very much to be as great, if not better at this than I feel about my abilities in the classroom. And although I’ve been reminded to stop thinking like a teacher, there is a part of me that will always retain those connections and commitment so I can continue to empathize and build capacity to the best of my ability.

This year my #oneword was #attentive. I made it my goal to listen really well to every person and everything put in front of me. The best feedback I got was that my teachers felt heard, even if they didn’t agree with me. We will not always agree, but I can hope that we will all have each other’s backs as we do what is best for students.

What does your job description suggest about your role and what would you change on it if you could? Please share

Photo by Starr Sackstein

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.