Thursday, September 14, 2017
When I began applying for administrative positions last fall, I applied because I thought I was ready to make a difference as an educational leader, impact student learning through careful observation, feedback, and evaluation of teachers, and have positive interactions with students that would give me my fix that I knew I would miss from the classroom. I knew that administration was going to be long hours, multitasking, and making plans to do great things, only to have them dashed by the everyday grind. What I did not know is just what kind of a toll it was going to take on me and my family.
When I started my position as dean of students last spring, I got a taste of what the daily grind of administration can be. The hours were long, stress was abundant, and deadlines and tasks were demanding. At the time I chalked it up to being new at the position and that things would get better. However, when I returned for the new school year at the beginning of August, things were not getting better. More and more needed to be done on short notice, and this was before students even arrived. Once students arrived, the daily routine included all of the duties and responsibilities, discipline, teacher observations, and so much more that made the days even more jam packed and long.
After careful consideration and conversation with those nearest and dearest to me, I made the decision to request a return to the classroom and leave my role as an administrator. Several factors went into my decision, but ultimately, it boiled down to priorities that were above any job.
My number one priority is my family: my wife, Mary, and my two children, Elsa and Reed. The long hours at work and the several hours of work that was brought home on a nearly daily basis were having a severely negative impact on my family life. There were too many days to count where I would come home and get to see my children for less than an hour before it was time for all of us to go to bed, only to get up and do it all over again. The last straw came a couple of weeks ago when my five year old, excited to see me after a long day at kindergarten, told me, "You're never home and you never want to do anything!" when I told her that I would rather sit and watch a show on TV with her than play a board game after a 12-13 hour day at the office. It really hurt to see her walk away and hear those words come out of her mouth. It was that moment that I realized that something had to change.
For several months, I have not been shy about my struggles with depression. When I finally admitted that I needed help from a therapist, I went on several occasions and was making progress. However, because of the demanding hours, I have not been able to get into a therapist, and there have been several times in the past few months where I really could have used the conversation, but have not been able to. A change in my role will free up my schedule and give me the opportunity to work on myself more, emotionally and psychologically, and hopefully physically (gym memberships are paid, gym memberships not used for weeks on end at this time).
When I left the classroom, first as a learning strategist over technology, then as an administrator, I did not leave because I was sick of teaching, quite the contrary. I've still been able to get my teaching fix through the various conferences and trainings in which I have presented, but it is not the same as working in a classroom with students. Over the past several weeks especially, I have missed the classroom and the positive interactions with students, getting to know them and their interests, and sharing jokes and great times in the classroom. My administrative role did not bring me the fulfillment that I had in the classroom and what I had hoped for when I applied for positions.
It is with a heavy heart that I will bid my school and my position farewell on Friday, September 15 to start a new chapter in the classroom. For the first 11 years of my career, I taught social studies, mostly United States History. Starting on Monday, I will be stepping into a physical education position, something that I have never taught and have not given much thought toward since graduating from college 12 years ago. I am also going to a behavior continuation school, a place where the students are assigned after making severe mistakes in a standard school and are trying to earn their way back. I am going to strive to be a positive beacon in their life, help them get a little more physically fit, and selfishly, allow myself the opportunity to spend more time with my family.
On a completely unrelated note, the past few weeks also included the application process of the Pear Deck Certified Coach cohort. The process included a standard application, a sample Pear Deck lesson, and a Flipgrid response explaining why I would be an awesome Pear Deck Coach. I was nominated by a Nick Park, one of the amazing employees of Pear Deck, which by itself was quite the honor. Last Friday, I was informed that I was accepted into the cohort, which will include some training on Pear Deck, the opportunity to present the sweetness that is Pear Deck at a conference, and the ability to interact with the Pear Deck coaching community. I am humbled and honored to have been accepted.
I am hoping that with my schedule opening up some over the coming days and weeks, I am hoping to get back to another love of mine, and that is writing this blog. In the meantime, I appreciate the love and support that so many have shown me through these past few days, weeks, months, and really, my entire life.
Until next time...