Combining My Passions Into One Teaching Job
I think that when anyone reflects on living their dream or working their dream job, they can't respond without including the word "passion". I am very blessed because, as a teacher, I am living my dream job at its coreteaching is my passion.
What I would like, however, is to expand the core of my job so that I can incorporate my other passions, creating a well-rounded dream job that utilizes my skills and talents while balancing the time commitments.
For example, I love coaching. I have been a coach for as long as I have been a teacher, leading soccer, swimming, and diving teams. I began coaching because, as a former student-athlete, I learned some invaluable life lessons and I cherish those experiences. Admittedly, I also needed more income, so the coaching stipend helped solidify my commitment to the extra position.
I also love the theater and have been involved with drama clubs throughout my career, although that is an after-school activity as well. In addition, I enjoy being involved with the school community at large. In this capacity, I volunteer as a host and co-producer of a local Spanish TV show. I also sit on the board of an event that raises funds for arts integration in the schools annually. Other boards I have sat on have included Hispanic alliances and multicultural activity boards.
I believe these passions are necessary in helping me be the best teacher I can be because they allow me to connect with my students in a real way and leverage personal resources that are vital in the classroom. Ultimately, everything I do is reflected back on my teaching and the students' learning.
The downside is that all of these "extras" are outside of my daily teaching schedule. This has been increasingly challenging for me because I am also the mother of two fabulous girls who need and deserve my attention.
So my dream job would be to incorporate my many roles into one position. I wouldn't be a teacher who coaches and is an active member of the community. I would be a teacher, with the coaching and community roles integrated into my position.
There are ways to achieve this, and I don't think they necessarily have to cost a lot or create union issues. Schools need to create well-functioning teams, with the philosophy that equal may not be equitable in all duties. Not every teacher has to teach the same amount of classes or have the same duties and responsibilities.
For example, I would love to teach three classes and instead of five classes, and then use the extra, non-teaching time for coaching duties and community affairs. To compensate for my time out of the classroom, another teacher, who was more focused on honing her instruction, could teach six classes. Still another could have administrative duties outside the classroom for one class period.
We could help each other through this arrangement. The one teaching full time could share lesson plans and organizational routines. The person with administrative duties could help with paperwork and logistics for field trips and activities. In turn, I could help them by monitoring the athletes and following up with their academic achievement and behavior. I might also have time to write grants for all the teachers to open up opportunities for their studentssomething I would love to do.
The point is, people have different strengths and interests, and by creating school positions based on those traits, teachers could do more of what makes them happy, collaborate more, and better address the full spectrum of their students' needs.
Lhisa Almashy is an ESOL teacher at Park Vista High School in Lake Worth, Fla. A 2012 winner of Teaching Tolerance's Cultural Responsive Teaching Award, she has more than 16 years of experience in teaching and administering multicultural programs in her district.