Yes, it’s true: I have left my position working with adult learners at the Arizona K12 Center to return to a teaching position in the Phoenix Union High School District this year. Why? I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me this question lately… usually with a furrowed brow and slightly elevated voice – as if they can’t believe I’d take such a step backwards. So, naturally, I’ve prepared a Letterman-style top 10 list to help clarify my rationale for making such a rebellious, nutty professional move:
10. The last novel I taught to my students before leaving the classroom in 2012 was the Hunger Games. So much I could say here, but the gist is that there is most definitely a District 13 in education and I want to be on the front lines of the revolution as the paradigm shifts. #teacherarmy
9. Because I can. Those who CAN, should teach. This profession wasn’t an afterthought for me – I deliberately chose it. And it’s hard. On purpose. Only those who can, should do it.
8. I am entering the last phase of my doctoral program and am about to launch an action research study in the Phoenix Union High School District. Working within the district that I have chosen to study for my research is rad. And lends validity to my study. Topic? Teacher Leadership. (Duh).
7. I get to teach at Alhambra High School. Not only did I graduate from this school in 1993, I’ve worked with the amazing staff there for the past 3 years in my role at the Arizona K12 Center. (Busting out the red and green spirit attire as we speak).
6. The principal at Alhambra is inspiring, truly cares about his staff, and actively works to cultivate teacher leadership on his campus. Leadership matters. Side note: my doctoral electives are designed to get my principal certification by the time I graduate in May of 2016. Will I become a principal? Who knows. The opportunity to study alongside AHS’ principal is priceless though.
5. I want to give the middle finger to the rhetoric going around about dissuading our youth from becoming educators. So I’ve gone back in. And I plan to recruit our youth to consider it as a viable profession. (Do you think Kindergarten is too young to start recruiting?).
4. National Board Certification. It’s a big deal and gives teachers a hefty swag-badge in which they can loudly use their voices to advance the teaching profession. It’s the biggest reason I left the classroom, and is one of the biggest I’ve gone back in. PUHSD has a talented group of National Board Certified Teachers that have the potential to be a game changer in Arizona’s teaching and learning landscape – and they have many more teachers actively working towards their certification. Stay tuned here!
3. I don’t forget where I came from. I am a product of PUHSD. I graduated from there and was an accomplished teacher in that same district. Thanks to the Arizona K12 Center, I have spent the past 3 years refining my ninja/jedi/teacher leader skills and it’s time to return to a school setting to put them to a new use. By that same token, I only know what I know about teacher leadership because of the Arizona K12 Center and I hope to get more teachers connected to their support generate the waves of teacher leaders needed to sustain and transform the profession.
2. I don’t think teachers should have to leave a classroom/school site altogether to be considered as having “arrived” or feel promoted. Teaching is a complex and honorable profession and, like the medical profession, those closest to the humans needing the services should be leading the profession. Call me crazy, but every good movement needs a lone nut.
1. THE STUDENTS! They are the only thing that matters in this profession called “education,” and the honor of working with them is all the convincing I needed to return to an active teaching position.
In one of my last blogs before leaving the classroom in 2012, I wondered if my time working with adult learners would be “as rich and as life-changing” as my body of work as a high school English teacher was. I’m pleased to say that it was, and I’m even more pleased to know that students in Arizona will be the direct beneficiaries of all that I’ve learned.