Monday, August 10, 2009

How Did I Get Here?

Well, here I sit. I have written this first blog a hundred times in my head. I was witty, creative, thought provoking. And here I sit. Blank. My intent is to offer a place for others to come and ponder with me as I begin a journey I never expected to take.

I am more than a bit curious about what happens to teachers who cross over to administration (the dark side). I know this is not unique to education. From the private business sector you hear the same concerns from those that are not in management. I wonder if the presence of the teacher's union and contract put teachers and administrators on opposite sides of some very important issues. Kids get lost in the system as it is.

As I ponder this transformation I consider all the administrators I have worked with. The majority taught only a handful of years before becoming administrators. Hmmm. Some had taught a fair number of years but once they came through the other side of their administrative programs practiced in seemingly uncaring ways and clearly lost some IQ points. A precious few are simply gifted as teachers and administrators both.

Why did it take me so very long to realize and put into action the necessary? In reflection I see that the universe was ever so gently tapping at me, like a handful of gravel gently thrown against a window pane to get someone's attention. After a dump truck load of gravel was wasted on me, a few boulders were put right in front of me. They were not easy to ignore, but I did. I then got hit with a few stress related health issues but all were managed by one pill a day. I finally took the proverbial blow to the head with a two by four in the form of one too many administrative decisions that made doing what is best for kids just about impossible. Could I keep on keeping on? Not a chance. Once I realized I had reached my limit the self loathing hit. Why are others able to do the job? Why was I finding this so impossible? Maybe I am not as strong as I thought?

I landed in burnout last year. I did not pass go or get my 200 bucks. I was 'in jail' with no get out free card. My cellmates were in worlds of hurt I couldn't change and the wardens were making decisions that effected all of us for the worse. I am good, really good, at what I do. I have always loved what I do. Colleagues, administrators, parents, all seek me out for help and support. No matter. By winter break of this last school year it became more than clear I simply could not face another year of direct service to my very challenging students. Once the shock of that realization wore off I had an identity crisis. If not an EBD teacher, who am I? EBD Teacher has always been my proudest title. Yeah, yeah. I am wife, mom, sister, daughter, auntie, friend too, but anyone can claim those titles.

I spent months spinning in my little wheel unable to find a direction or place to get off. With the help of my good friend Wayne Dyer (never met the man, but in my mind we are tight). I began to organize my thoughts and better define my purpose. I also requested a one year leave of absence. (My heart still races when I realize I will not be back in my room in a few short weeks.)

I had to define what is important to me as a public school educator. This took months. Nothing gets me more jazzed than an impossibly quirky kid, classroom teachers entrenched in bad practices, and burned out parents. I want to be able to develop and help maintain effective programming for special needs kids. I want to support teachers as they face the realities of every day. I want to advocate for special educators who are facing insurmountable challenges but handle it all with grace and creativity. I want to help parents navigate through it all.

I considered teaching at the university level. You know, teach teachers in training, supervise them as student teachers. But 18-21 year olds are not my favorite group and none of what I wanted to do could be done in that role. I also harbor a belief that good teachers are born not made (very limited and probably ill conceived) and that would certainly get in the way of me being an effective college instructor.

My next shock was the realization that to practice what was important per my values I need to become an administrator in special education and pupil services. Yikes! Nope, no way. I was only able to face it full on after a visit with an EAP counselor and the very next day applied and signed up.

Within a day of that I was notified my leave was granted and the deal was done. I have never doubted it since. I am on a train that is taking me to a destination I was not ready for until now.

The Force is with me. I will do what I am meant to do.


  1. Trail blazing is tough! Remember, well-behaved women rarely make history. (I credit Eleanor Roosevelt for that one; we could get it printed on t-shirts.)

  2. Congratulations on beginning this new journey. It will have its moments of frustration and struggle but you are a strong person and determined. I look forward to reading more about how things are going for you.


Although I am dangerously opinionated, I am a flexible thinker and welcome your thoughts.