Passion

On Twitter, a fellow educator mentioned to me the Sir Ken Robinson speech from TED this year, a video I have probably watched 10 times but it never gets old. This time, it was the part about passion that affected to me. He spoke about how it is a shame that more people don’t have a career that is focused on what they are passionate about. I agree with him, and I believe it is a key part of something I have struggled with in my new position.

I live to work with kids, I know that is what I am passionate about. In my current position as a first year assistant principal, I see a lot of kids each day. I teach a couple classes during the course of a week, including a Web Design option and a Basketball option class, two courses I enjoy teaching a great deal. Even though I spend a lot of time each day with students, it just doesn’t compare to working every day as a classroom teacher. I miss teaching a core course in the classroom (I have taught the four, Science, Social, Math and Language Arts) and helping students tackle the important curriculum materials day in and day out. There is something to be said for taking on that challenge with a group of young people and helping them make the journey from course outline to final exam. I miss the immense amount of time you get to spend with your classes, providing ample opportunity to connect with students, to take time to discuss their interests and really get a sense of who they are, while they get a true sense of who I am. I find myself keeping the students I do interact with be it on supervision, in my office or in the hallways, a little too long as I try to fill the void created by my missing out on these connections.

I don’t have to be reminded that the work I do helps the teachers and education assistants in our building get the chance to work closely with kids, I get that. I also know that I have found a passion in working to assist some teachers in my building, sharing strategies or advice when I have some to offer. I can see that the work I do is important and is helpful, but I struggle with missing the real connection with kids that motivated me to become an educator in the first place.

I wonder what Ken Robinson would tell me? What I have done for the past 8 years has been my passion and part of who I am, would he think that I will receive the same reward from this position in the future? Will a similar inspiration come from working indirectly with kids rather than directly? Will a passion grow for me from the work I do as an administrator?

What do you think about this issue? Are there administrators out there that had difficulty with this same issue? Are there teachers out there that can empathize with the loss of constant student connection?

I would appreciate feedback, so please leave a comment if you have something to share.

5 thoughts on “Passion

  1. Your story takes me back in time almost 14 years ago when I was asked to leave the classroom (after having taught for about 8 years) to lead a technology initiative as a facilitator. I then became a k-8 principal and now I serve as a secondary academic affairs principal in an all girls school (22 years later). The journey has been challenging and yet very rewarding. Those first years were difficult as I transitioned from being a teacher surrounded by a small group of students, to an administrator responsible for 500 students. I am as passionate about what I am doing today that goes beyond the classroom experience; however, I keep my feet planted by substituting for teachers, sitting in on classes, listening to teachers, and getting to know students even if there are 560 of them. I will leave you with a few words of wisdom from Michael Fullan (2006) that might help you embrace your leadership role, “Systems thinkers in action” are the leaders that will aspire beyond raising test scores, embarking upon a journey that cultivates the leadership capacity of others and participates in the bigger picture”. We can accept this call to action or step aside, the choice is ours. In the end students will be affected by any of the roles we elect in our profession as long as we are dedicated to doing what is in the best interest of students. Thank you for being so honest about leaving the classroom and allowing me to reflect upon my own experiences. Enjoy the journey!

  2. Another great post, thanks again for a great read. I also struggled being out of the class and have found taking leadership programs in the school very helpful. I find ways to work with kids through learning assistance and building relationships with them on the playground. As I read great articles and blogs, I find I miss the class because I wish that knew what I know now when I was in the class. I am still working on evolving as an instructional leader without being in the classroom. Keep sharing!

  3. As an administrator, you have the opportunity to connect with all kids of the school. I hate not being around kids, so do you know what I do? I get out and make myself be around kids. Connections should not stop when you are an administrator. The fact of the matter is, I do not know kids as deeply as I once did BUT I do know more kids than ever before. Yes I miss those connections that I had as a classroom teacher, but it is essential that we have admin who value those connections, and still go out and make them. That is so valuable to your school community.

    My two cents..

  4. I enjoy reading your honest and thoughtful posts! After my last year of classroom teacher (Gr. 5/6) I moved to an instructional technology position, for 4 elementary buildings, K-6. This was mindblowing to me, as before I spent the majority of my time developing relationships with 25 students, I now had to extend my same student-centered philosophy to 800+! I made it my mission, though, to get to know as many students as possible on a personal level. I did the exact same thing when becoming an administrator three years ago. Know your students’ names. Greet them by name every time. Ask them personal questions that will allow you to make connections with their lives. Find out their favorite subjects and sports teams and siblings’ names and what kinds of books they like to read. These informal conversations will take you a really long way. Make your office an interesting place to be, not a place where kids dread going. I want my students to visit me! (I personally have a basketball hoop and putting green in mine, plus lots of great books!) Make yourself visible in the classrooms, as George said, and also at recess and in the cafeteria.
    There are days when I truly miss the classroom, but not because I don’t get to have form relationships with kids, because I feel I still get to do that. Sometimes I just miss being the “teacher.” Then I remember… I am still a teacher. See Patrick’s blog post here: http://www.connectedprincipals.com/archives/985 for a great reminder of that.
    If you’re passionate about helping students, you’re in the right profession. It’s a little bittersweet, but remember that you’re impacting the lives of so many students each day!

  5. Great post about a concern I have had since I left the classroom. I do miss being responsible for only those students in my classroom, but the personal benefits for me to get to know more students have outweighed the few. I have found ways to make connections with kids during lunch and recess duty, working with small groups of kids to deepen their knowledge or change a behavior, or covering a class when substitutes are not available. I spend as little time in my office as is possible, and even that amount of time seems to be too much. I have tried to do something new each year to make more connections with kids. Last summer I had a group of students help me redesign the library and this year I have a group of students I’m working on to put together our yearbook. In this way, I’m able to make connections with a wider variety of students, not just those “frequent flyers” who see me due to academic or behavioral concerns. The connections you make as a principal aren’t the same as those you made as a teacher, but they are just as valuable. Just wait until the kids come back to see you years later.

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