I attended a Panamanian reunion a few years ago, and my Aunt Katherine introduced me to some of her friends. She introduced me as her niece, the principal. I laughed and told her that I was not a principal. She said, "Oh, an assistant principal." No, not that either. "Well, you will be one some day." I told her that I wouldn't because I enjoyed being a classroom teacher. I don't think she believed me.:)
I enjoy being a classroom teacher. I enjoy being with the students, as exhausting as that may be. I love the interaction with my students, the planning, the engagement, I would miss it if I left the classroom. When I entered the profession, this was what other teachers loved as well. Unfortunately, too many people are entering our profession with their sights set on what the future holds outside the classroom, and not what's in the classroom, our kids.
I don't know how many times I have heard teachers, just entering the profession, letting everyone know how soon they will leave the classroom. I knew a teacher who had a 5 year plan. I had a TFA'er tell me that she was going to be a lawyer. As we speak, she is in law school, after spending 2 years "teaching."Too many times the classroom is regarded as a stepping stone to being an administrator or to another career.
I don't have a problem with people becoming administrators, resource teachers, etc... We need those people just as much as we need teachers in the classroom. But I question what happened to experience being a good thing? What happened to learning the ropes, becoming good in one thing before moving on to the next? What happened to spending the first year focused on teaching instead of how many committees you can join so you meet the "right" people?
I don't want a principal who has taught for only 3 years. I want an administrator who actually knows what it feels like to be in the classroom. I wouldn't want my child taught by someone whose sole ambition is to be "anything but a teacher in the classroom", in X number of years.
A friend of mine recounted the story of a running into a woman who was currently working at her former school. She told the woman she had also been a teacher at the school. The woman haughtily replied, "I am not a teacher, I am the vice principal." Well... excuuuuusssse me! When one profession is thought to be "better", no wonder getting out of the classroom is a goal.
I think I would be a pretty good administrator if all I had to do was deal with the kids. But I know it is so much more than that. I know it is a difficult job that has demands from the students, parents, staff, administrators, I became exhausted just thinking about it. I think people crave the title and the salary, and don't realize the work they have to put in.
There's nothing wrong with looking beyond the classroom. But if you're stepping on the heads of our children in order to see the road ahead, there's definitely something wrong with that. And as wonderful as the title sounds, we can't all be the principal.
photo credit: cliff1066™ via photopin cc