I am stuck in my professional development.
It is as though I have built a house.
I live in and enjoy every aspect of this house and continue to play around with the design and colors of it, perhaps even doing a remodel every ten years or so. But the house is built. I am not learning anything more, or being challenged by my house. As a person that has honestly embraces the idea of life long learning I am always on the lookout for lessons, the next match that will spark a fire in my brain. This house out of matches.
My current career path is that house. I am a teacher and have been for more than 20 years. I love what I do. I am good at it. What I am not, is challenged by it. I went back to school and got a Masters in administration to fuel that brain fire. But while I am now older and wiser than I was as a rookie teacher I am also less mobile. My wife, my kids, and my house are all rooted in our community so moving to find a principal-ship is not an option. In short I cannot start building another house right now.
My story is not unique. The career ladder in education is more of a stepping stool. Master the classroom and your done. Which may explain why 57% of us leave by the 10th year.
Ours is a career path that promotes learning and growth but has not found a way to foster that within itself. The people at www.teacherleaders.org believe this is one of the biggest problems facing our profession. The Gates foundation lists professional stagnation as a primary issue facing education.
The answer seems clear, we want a new challenge without having to build a new house. What we need is powerful, inspired, courageous teachers to continuing thriving in their classrooms while they grow professionally.
This winter I missed out after my first interview for a local principal job, and was looking once again for a metaphorical building project. While over thinking my predicament the seed of a good idea formed. I talked it up with my peers. Then I presented it to our superintendent. He liked the idea, or at least saw nothing to loose in trying it. This Fall we are going to launch the teacher-leaders of Camas, (TLC)
We have amazing teachers looking for a challenge. We are working in an amazing district. What we need is amazing professional development. Our plan is simple, challenge those teachers to define, share, and expand their expertise. We would like to invite you to kibitz, comment and criticize as we chronicle our journey. We have established an virtual community with the help of Lisa Schmucki at Edweb.net where we will present our case, discuss our plans, and monitor our progress.
I read through Edutopia frequently so I will post our successes here too for those paying attention.
If you have any advice I would love to hear it.