I’ve always fancied myself a writer of sorts, though I’ve never published anything you would have read, that is, until now. I love the art of writing–the careful and deliberate re-creation of experience and feeling so that others may share in it, so that is why I chose to teach English. (I’ll save my love for literature for another post!) I love all kinds of writing, so I’ve taught creative writing, research, rhetoric, speech, and journalism. I delight in what makes each of them unique as well as what ties them all together. Passion.
As much as I love writing, though, in truth, I am a teacher. I am a teacher in my bones, my heart, my soul and every cell that enables me to be. I will not apologize for that. I believe teaching is the noblest of professions. I walk beside my students and then behind them as they stride into the future. Often they stumble or stray, but a real teacher knows that unless her students stumble and stray, they won’t learn.
This is the seventeenth summer of my teaching career. I laugh when people suggest that I actually vacation during the summer months. I’ve never known a summer when I’ve not spent hours planning, meeting, studying, reading, imagining, hoping, shopping, decorating, and waiting for the next school year. It seems impossible that I’ve done that seventeen times. I still feel I have so much to learn about being a great teacher.
One summer I took students on a theater tour of London and the surrounding area. What a joy! The things I learned from that trip have been a part of my teaching since we went in June of 2001. For the past two years I’ve taken 5-day jaunts to Stratford, Ontario, Canada to their wonderful Shakespeare Festival. I learn things there that I bring back and share with my students, too. Those are my “vacations.”
This summer I finished my master’s degree in secondary education and educational leadership. I took the school administrator’s licensing exam and did well, so now all that remains is paper work. On the cusp of the transition from teacher to administrator, this is a pivotal summer for me for many reasons. After more than ten years as department chair, I resigned my position and am mentoring a new department leader to take my place. After more than 8 years as a school improvement leader, I am stepping back to let others take the lead.
It is a difficult transition, but it teaches me a very practical and essential lesson. A good leader is one who can, like a good teacher, guide others into realizing their leadership potential. A good leader is one who can recognize and work to develop the talent around her.
I have given up the roles that have prompted my growth as an education leader in anticipation of the next step, but one thing is certain: my greatest joy will be my only focus this year. I get to teach my students, and I can’t wait to get started as my seventeenth summer comes to its close.