Saturday, February 14, 2009

To jump, or not to jump?

When I was applying for my first education job, I was surprised at how difficult it was to get an interview in the summer. School doesn't start until August or September, so why aren't people hiring in June or July? As it turns out, the process starts much earlier.

Last week, probationary/temporary teachers were notified of their "re-elect" status. Having just become a permanent teacher, I'm grateful that I no longer have to face the anxiety felt by those who could be terminated with no warning and, perhaps, no real reason.

Letters already went out informing teachers of early-retirement bonuses. Rumors are starting to fly about who is transferring where, and why. Teachers are crossing their fingers, hoping that their administrators will move on and torture someone else. (aside: i'm starting to get callouses on my knuckles).

The charter schools in the area are also making quiet inquiries as to which quality teachers may just have had enough of the frustration and foolishness. Being professionally attached to many such quality teachers, I'm in line for a few of these opportunities, and I have to admit that they sound attractive.

The hours would be longer, more would be expected, and I wouldn't have union protection, but the benefits I would receive in exchange must bring me pause. The promises of professional respect, the opportunity to become a leader, the undiscovered country of a place where people use time like it has value...

'tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

But what happens when I step out of my current position? I've worked here for years, and I still believe that the vision is alive, buried somewhere under all the manure of district mandates and administrative mistakes. I know what to expect and what is expected of me. My teaching team works well together and provides the consistency that the kids need. The parents know me, and most of them trust me. The kids listen and learn and grown and change. Aside from the one individual who spitefully makes extra work at every opportunity, I'm in a good place.

And I've helped to build this good place. I wasn't on the original founding team, but I have made an impression on the school. From simple procedures to working documents to overall tone, my fingerprints are all over the school. How can I just ditch and go to another school, one that doesn't look and smell familiar? Am I ready to be the new person again, when I've so recently become comfortable (but not apathetic)? The new guy is never treated well; parents get upset with every change to procedure, kids are unsure and unwilling to take risks, and colleagues are less likely to accept and listen to new ideas.

Conscience is truly making a coward of me. The current that was driving me out of the school is turning awry, making eddies and whirlpools that lead me back to where I started. I'm circling and gyrating, wondering where I should go and what I should do.

It looks like I'll be staying. I've lost the name of action. More than that, I've realized that one person's incompetence should not drive me to professional suicide.

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