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Not there, but always around


It's around these next few weeks that people are making their final decisions around whether to stay in the classroom next fall or to move into a different role or field. I've always felt some tinge of guilt for going. For those in the midst of making up your minds, remember: Always honor your children. Here was a response I had for a reader who disagreed with my perspective, but who helped push my thinking about my role and our collective role as a society for children.

Dear John,

Thanks for adding to the conversation. I have to respectfully disagree, however, because I have not left my students behind. I may not be teaching them directly anymore, but my value as a teacher in the classroom was to give them a high quality of learning. Even though my day-to-day role is different, my value in the classroom is the same-- to give a high quality education, especially to kids whose socioeconomic status is keeping them from attaining one already.

It was not as as quick for me to see my direct impact I have as a program director-- I'm not there day-to-day to see the a-ha moments of Taylor or Claudia when their teacher improves her checks for understanding-- but I do have the satisfaction of knowing that without my work as Claudia's teacher's program director, her teacher wouldn't have so quickly changed and improved her checks for understanding for them to reach those a-ha moments to begin with.

It was a tough transition for me, but it's one I'm proud of. It's also made me think back to the individuals who had a real impact on improving my teaching. Those fellow teachers, program directors and, yes, administrators, may not have been in the classroom with me each day, and it may have looked like they weren't doing much for the kids, but by opening my perspective to the many different people and work that is needed to closing the education gap, I see how folks who choose not to be in the classroom everyday are still making significant changes in kids' lives. By making assumptions about teachers, administrators, and everyone else in the education world, we run into the dangerous way of not working together toward the same goal from the many different directions necessary. It takes a village and we can't afford to leave anyone out.


Jessica raises an important issue about how we view ourselves as education workers within the school environment. Yes, the teacher is on the front lines, but the administrators, support staff, and others who provide the infrastructure, supplies, clean floors, food, and other aspects of school life also contribute.

Each of us has strengths and weaknesses, and if someone with a passion for helping students feels that she can help more by training other teachers, then I view that as a net gain for the students. Maybe the one hundred students she directly impacted during the teacher's year or two in the classroom will lose a direct connection, but other students will gain indirectly.

My grandmother once said that each of us as teachers should strive to have such a positive impact on our students that a percentage of them will go on to help other students. I always thought that she was referring to encouraging new classroom teachers, but Jessica has reminded me that teacher trainers and others providing help just behind the lines also are necessary.

I agree with Phil and Jessica. There are others who contribute to the education world that make a huge difference. I think if a highly qualified teacher is given the opportunity to move from teaching students to teaching teachers how to effectively teach students, I think that is a smart move. Students need to learn from the best possible teachers and that can only be done if teachers are trained correctly. My stepmother is a wonderful teacher and I believe her teachings are very effective to her students. She was offered a job to become a reading coach and train teachers in certain school districts how to effectively teach a student to read. She accepted the job and as result made a huge impact in a lot of student’s lives on their improvement of reading because their teachers had been trained by my stepmother.

One of the biggest things, like you mentioned, is it really does take a village to raise a child and the school faculty are so reliant on one another you are always going to be affecting (and improving) teaching and educating the children. Though the a-ha moments are nice to see, it will be you who made those moments even easier for them to have.

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Recent Comments

  • Jessica: One of the biggest things, like you mentioned, is it read more
  • Haley: I agree with Phil and Jessica. There are others who read more
  • Phil Nash: Jessica raises an important issue about how we view ourselves read more




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