We didn’t build schools to give people jobs; we built schools to educate children.
I’m not sure where I first heard that statement but it has definitely stuck with me and helped to guide me during some seriously difficult decisions. My belief is that my primary role is to help make children’s lives better. My secondary role is to help make teachers’ lives better so that they can, in turn, make children’s lives better. It is a pretty simplistic view at what can be a very complicated process. At times it can turn decisions that I have to make into dilemmas that can truly twist my soul.
In order to properly fulfill my primary function, I have to work as best as I can to ensure that every student in my school has the absolute best teacher in the room with them. This is sometimes very hard to do because not every teacher can be just like the best teachers in a school (and some teachers really have no interest in doing so). So we have to work to build people up and provide the support and guidance that they need in order to improve every day.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the question in the title of this post. Part of this is because our school district has repurposed several schools recently, which has forced the staff at those sites to reapply for their own jobs. I have also been interviewing candidates within the past few weeks and I find it interesting how differently people think to sell themselves for a teaching position and what qualities they choose to highlight.
I have had to interview for several positions many times myself in the past ten years. I find myself constantly updating my mindset as I progress in my journey to become a better educator. Interviewing and building a resume of accomplishments is a regular occurrence for administrators and educators who seek advancement. But what about those teachers who stay at one location their entire careers?
What would you say at an interview in order to obtain your current position? What qualities do you possess that you would choose to highlight? How have you grown since you first took your job? How have you grown in the past year? How do you stay connected to the current trends, strategies, and ideas that are being implemented in schools throughout the world?
What it really boils down to me is this – do you possess the requisite passion to facilitate learning at our school? I believe that we can help anyone become a better teacher through coaching, modeling, professional development, and feedback and reflection. What I can’t instill in you is passion. You either have it or you don’t. I can look no further than one of my very own teachers who is retiring at the end of the next school year. One might think that someone in this spot would be winding down, ready to head to retirement. Pleasantly however, this teacher has reinvented herself as a leader in technology integration and social media connectedness. The bar has been set for me. If someone near the end of her career can do these things, then all teachers must be able to do so. Constant learning and reflecting are non-negotiables to being a quality educator. The challenge before each of you is to continually self-reflect, learn, grow, collaborate, and share. And think, do I see myself as someone worthy of my current position?