“Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? Fifteen years?” This classic question is asked by potential bosses in interviews frequently. Interviewees often provide a bright description of their future advancing up the ladder, taking on more responsibility, and making a positive impact on their company.
Surprisingly, I have never been asked this question in an interview for a teaching position or ever for that matter. Am I one of the lucky ones? The ones who dodge the forced explanation of their hopes and dreams?
While some may feel relieved to escape this age-old question, I wish someone would ask me. Teaching is my second career, and I spent a ton of time, stress, and money to get here. And I don’t plan to leave the field any time soon.
If anyone does ask me, I have the vague “I do want to climb the metaphorical ladder taking on more responsibility to make a positive impact on my community” answer ready on standby. But if someone really, really, asks me, I have the specifics mapped out. I see myself teaching AP Language or Literature in the next five years. I see myself becoming our department chair invigorating my fellow colleagues with new, innovative methods and ideas in the next ten years. I see myself moving into our district office overseeing our curriculum and instruction for English Language Arts in fifteen years.
But again, no one asked me. Never once in an interview, evaluation, or even casual conversation has someone posted this question which frightens me. And I wonder if I am the only teacher who hasn’t encountered this question. If I am, that’s incredible. If I’m not, that’s terrifying.
I’m frightened no one is asking the question because it means two things. First, no one cares about the future of educators or teacher leaders enough to ask. And second, it means we have to awkwardly tell people what we want. This can be seen as too direct or even boastful. Yet, when we don’t ask ourselves and others where they see themselves in the future, we aren’t supporting the growth, leadership, and development we may need to climb that ladder.
The responsibility falls on our leaders to help mold future leaders, but when that doesn’t happen we must take the reigns of our future into our own hands. And while it may sound overzealous to think I could achieve my five, ten, and fifteen-year dreams, I have to share to them in hopes that by saying them aloud repeatedly (and writing them here), it will make them a reality sooner than later.
Without a dream to strive for, how can we measure our success over a lifetime? I challenge you to share your five, ten, and fifteen-year hopes. Maybe you see yourself becoming a career teacher who leaves their mark on thousands of kids. Maybe you see yourself sharing your passion for your content with reluctant students. Maybe you see yourself going into administration to help shape your school. Maybe you see yourself creating lifelong learners. Whatever you see yourself doing, our future endeavors matter. Maybe by starting this conversation, we can start to support each other in our goals.