I have been a special educator for 10 years. Dang. Seems like a lifetime. But it's not. I have 20 more years to go before I can retire. I think when every young person walks into their very first classroom, they hope that it's going to be their classroom for the rest of their career.
These days, that doesn't always happen.
As we grow older, as we grow wiser, as we grow stronger, we begin to realize what we need out of our careers. As educators, our careers consume us. Being a teacher means so much more than just being a job. We care. We love. We hate. We laugh, boy do we laugh. We cry. BOY OH BOY DO WE CRY. Our jobs are so stressful. It's not just the deadlines and the expectations. Moms and dads trust us with their children, their whole world. We teach so much more than academics.
When we get hired, we are hoping our schools become our home and our second family. It's not always the case. We might not meet their expectations and they might not meet ours. And that's okay. Do not be discouraged. There are soooo many schools and students and families out there that can complete you as an educator.
But before you jump into a new situation, it's important to determine what it is that you believe in as an educator.
With each passing year, I've grown so much. I've learned what it means to be a teacher. But I've also learned so much about myself. I have taught in 2 states and 5 schools. None of these schools fulfilled my teacher heart. The main reason was how important my job as a special educator was viewed by my peers and my administrators. Another was how my students were treated vs how students in the general education classroom were treated.
This past school year has been one of the most mentally and emotionally draining of my entire career. By September 17, I knew I'd be finding a different job for the 2017-2018 school year. I knew how I deserved to be treated. I knew how my students deserved to be treated. And I knew, if I was true to myself, I could not stay. I began to search. But I was selective. Before I applied, I did research. I checked out the school website, I checked out the school Facebook page, I read reviews on Greatschools.org.
I decided upon three values that were important to me as a special educator:
Equity: How are my students going to treated by their peers, teachers and administrators?
Transparency: Be honest. Be open. Do not keep me in the dark.
Growth: An educator is a lifelong learner. Help me grow. Help me learn. Help me be my best.
At the end of school directed interviews, they always ask do you have any questions for us. I ask these three questions:
Do you believe my students will grow? What are their expectations for them? For me? Do we believe in the same philosophies? Will I be as important to you as your general educators?
Will students learn in the general education environment? Who will teach them? What will they be doing when in the general education classroom? What are your expectations for them?
Will I be an important and valued member of your team?
I have decided to leave my school district of 5 years. I have found a new school, a new district. I'm hopeful for my new journey. I chose this school because all three of these questions were answered in such a caring and positive way. I will post about my journey because I have a feeling it's going to be a great one.