Our lives our benchmarked by defining moments. Many of us look at our lifetime and see moments that are personal and professional. The birth of my daughter was a defining moment, but so was leaving the classroom. There are moments when we don't realize the significance until years later, and yet there are moments that we know instantaneously that the moment will define our future.
Early in 2010 following a partnership meeting between a state university and my district I was summoned for a chat. Though it was after five, and the majority of the district office had left for the day I followed my assistant superintendent to his office. The conversation began and quickly took a turn that caught me completely off-guard. After his five minute monologue about the ineffectiveness of my school site leader, the implications that she was inept, he concluded with "…that's not just my perspective it is the perspective of many others." As I clutched my bag tighter, tried to keep my heart from jumping out of my chest, I turned and looked at the clock that read 5:35. I knew that I was experiencing a defining moment. Do I stay quiet? Do I speak? Do I walk out? Well, known to many as the teacher that found her voice as a result of National Board- I spoke. I began my monologue about the effectiveness of my principal with, "That may be the perspective of you and others, but now I would like to share my perspective…"
As I left the district office that evening I knew that would be a defining moment in my lifetime. The following week I was informed I was being transferred to the junior high. The chain of events that followed are spectacular enough for the big screen. Though the events were unreal, my life was real. The disillusionment with a lifetime dedicated to my profession was real. Starting over in a new district at a new school with new colleagues has been a journey that at times I doubted I possessed the stamina to maintain.
Now, I can look back and see that I am stronger as a result of the past year and a half. I know that this strength is what I'm holding fast to as our entire state is experiencing somewhat of a disillusionment with our profession. It is almost as if our state is at a defining moment. As an individual, what will you decide in this moment of disillusionment? Will you throw your hands up? Will you try to make teaching a job instead of a profession?
What are our students hoping we will do? What do they need us to do? How can we define the moment for them?
image by Salvetore Vuono