Blogger’s note: I know it’s been awhile since I’ve used this space to share. I promise to be back soon with some really good stuff. In the meantime, check out my work over at SeizeTheData.
One of the issues that has bugged me ever since becoming a teacher is our lack of advancement opportunities. There are few skilled vocations in which there is not a path, transparent or otherwise, for promotion. In most careers that demand specialized skills, one can move up through a series of jobs that carry increasing responsibility (and often management of others) and increasing salary. The type of skill is the same, but the level of expertise and the need to build skills in those below you become more important at the higher levels.
At first glance, school administration seems to fit this description for education, right? I suppose in a perfect world, every principal would be a master teacher at the top of her game, now given the chance to develop other teachers into the best version of themselves. But, that is not the reality. Part of the reason is that school administration is a completely different job than teaching. Principals handle budgets, discipline students, and make organizational choices that have little to do with teaching and learning.
The truth is that most administrators are people better suited for managing large organizations than educating children. With a few truly outstanding exceptions, the majority of principals are not instructional experts. These are not teachers who mastered their craft and then took it to the next level. They are people who worked as teachers long enough to get to the place where they want to be, or where they belong.
That leaves classroom teachers, many of whom have ambitions to make more money and have more of an impact, with few choices. The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards tries to remedy this situation. The Center for Teaching Quality is working to create a class of “teacherpreneurs“. Ariel Sacks even wrote about the problem recently.
But in the trenches, it still looks like the only option is to dig in a little deeper. Or, pack up and go somewhere else.