Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Lately I have been reflecting on my career in education, reminiscing on my past accomplishments, while wondering what lies ahead. As you read, I invite you to think about the roads you have traveled.
Upon completing my undergraduate program, I had an experience at summer camp for students with special needs that impacted who I am and what I do today. A student at camp said, “This is the only place that I can come and people don’t stare at me and ask me what’s wrong. I get to be me.” This comment resonated with me and inspired me to pursue my masters degree in exceptional education. As I began my career in special education, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with children in various age groups at different academic levels.
My background in special education proved to be a crucial element as I moved to a regular education classroom. I recall a comment a professor once said, “Fair is not everyone being treated equally; fair is giving each child what they need to learn.” My expertise and knowledge helped to individualize lessons providing all students with what they “needed” to learn. Originally I thought being a classroom teacher was my destiny and where I would always be. No matter what was going on in my student’s lives, my classroom was safe and learning was fun. What I did everyday in the classroom mattered and impacted my students’ lives. Working with parents and students was very gratifying, but I was only able to impact the learning and lives of students who were in my classroom.
As I continued teaching in the classroom, it became clear that I needed to expand beyond my classroom and explore other available opportunities in order to have the greatest impact on student learning. As a result of going though the National Board certification process I began to examine my teaching practices more closely. This process pushed me to go beyond my comfort zone, to lean into discomfort. Through analyzing and reflecting I refined my teaching techniques. I began to really question what I did and why, examining how I influenced student learning. Realizing that my strengths in the classroom were important qualities to share with all teachers, I stepped into the role of an instructional coach. This endeavor was exciting and challenging.
My work with National Board certification in Arizona motivated me to pursue my doctorate in educational leadership and innovation. It made me realize the importance of the National Board certification process and how facilitating and coaching teachers enables them to articulate their teaching practice at a deep, rich level. I have seen teachers at my school take on the role of teacher leaders and advocate for students and learning. I feel fortunate to be part of those “light bulb” moments, where their thinking shifts and they are never the same teacher. They are constantly questioning, analyzing and pushing their teaching, positively impacting students.
This spring I will complete coursework for my principal certification. I am not sure what road I will travel. Some days, I am inspired and hopeful that I could make a difference and impact teachers and students on a different level. Other days, I am discouraged and wonder if I would get lost in the rhetoric, the noise that interferes with teaching and learning. So, what roads have you traveled?