June 1, 2013

Words that Matter

Yesterday marked one full week that we've been in Chicago.

Yesterday was also the deadline for my decision about whether or not I would be returning to my school for another year. 

I asked my administration for one more week so we could figure out our options here. I didn't want to string them along, like many of my peers encouraged me to do. I just don't think that's fair to them. So, I was upfront with our desire to move closer to family but also expressed how much I would want to stay in my building if we ended up staying in Baton Rouge. I'm very fortunate to have a supportive, understanding administration who granted me the extra time to figure things out.

Joel has a second job interview, this one with the hiring manager, on Monday for a job he will likely take. And even though it's not set in stone (and therefore a leap of faith), we're going with the assumption that he will take the job (if not, he has another option). So, with that news, I wrote my administration and gave them the bittersweet news that we are leaving Baton Rouge.

I thanked them for the opportunity to work with them. It was definitely an experience that has shaped me, both personally and professionally. I feel that I'm a more well-rounded teacher after working in this environment, and I'm grateful for the ways it's taught me to be a better planner, especially when it comes to differentiated instruction. And then I asked them for a letter of recommendation to take to future employers.

And this is the response I got back from admin:

I'm sorry to hear that you are moving back to Chicago. You've been a great team member all year long. Your passion and caring towards students and their success and well-being, I believe, made a difference in their lives. I would be happy to write a recommendation letter.

I can't tell you how meaningful it was for me to read that short email. For anyone that doesn't know me, I had a terrible principal in one of my past schools who really made me doubt myself as a teacher. In my opinion, her words and actions did not reflect each other when it came to building relationships with the students. She would tell us to consider students as whole persons and then criticized me for being "unprofessional" when I talked to my students about what it meant to date in middle school and because I knew who students were dating (which... anyone who works with middle school students can tell you that this information is voluntarily offered on a daily basis). 

There was a lot of confusion. And a lot of tears. And even though I knew I hadn't done anything wrong, there was that self-doubt that creeped into my mind. 

Building relationships with students is the reason I teach. So, it feels really good to have found an administration that supports this belief and even says I'm a better teacher because of it. I feel validated and appreciated. (And I won't lie, I totally feel like taking his words straight to that terrible, awful, no-good, very bad former principal... with a few choice gestures.)

So, even though I have no idea where I'll be working next (and am dreading the potential of being trapped as a substitute again), I can look for my next job with more motivation and confidence that I AM a good teacher, darn it. 

Now, to just get a hiring district to realize this...

1 comment:

  1. So brave of you! Talk about a leap of faith. Being close to family is so important, and I really admire you for making that choice. With your confidence and expertise, any school will be fortunate to have you on their staff. Keeping my fingers crossed for you and your husband!