Choosing the Right Station

medium_2550814754For the past twelve years, teaching has been my life.  I mean this in almost every sense of the word.  I’ve spent more time teaching–creating and delivering lessons–than any other activity over that time, including sleep.  More than that, I have spent enormous quantities of effort and money in the quest to improve my practice.  I’ve read dozens of books about education, pored over hundreds of blog posts, and attended days worth of professional development sessions.  To some eyes, I’ve been obsessed with being a better teacher.

Obsessions come with a penalty, though.  All of that time spent on one mission, particularly one that pays so little, can leave a negative impact on one’s family.  I was lucky enough to find two or three part-time jobs that paid pretty well, but that left even less time to be with my kids and my lovely (and patient) wife.  Others have already whined complained about this, so I won’t belabor the point.

Throughout the last few years of my career, it became clear that I wasn’t going to ride this train to the end of the track.  At some point, my classroom experience, knack for technology, and creative mojo were going to lead me into another role.  We all know that there is no “up” for teachers–it’s only “over” (read: administration) or “out”.  The only question, then, is when to get off the train.

So, when an opportunity arrived a few months ago, I had to consider whether it represented my station.  There is no doubt that this new job–leading the data literacy program of which I have been a member for over a year*–is an enticing one.  The pay is a step up and the work allows me to impact many more students all over North Carolina by providing professional development to their teachers.  But, is this the right stop for me to disembark from the career train?

It was only after considerable thought, and some input from those whom I respect and admire, that I came to the realization that it doesn’t need to be the right stop.  It just needs to be a station where I can switch to another mode of transit and continue my journey, right?

So, I made the leap and left the classroom.  So far, not a day has gone by when I don’t think about my students and the life of a classroom teacher.  But, I am also excited by the challenges that lie ahead, and I know (sadly) that I would not have been able to expand my horizons if I didn’t pull the cord and step off the train.

How do you know when you’ve reached that part of your teaching journey?  What will you do when you get there?


*Look for more in this space about the new job in the near future.

photo credit: Paolo Margari via photopin cc

7 thoughts on “Choosing the Right Station

  1. Paul… My hubby and I had this conversation tonight. I love teaching, but there is so much noise. So many interruptions to what I want to accomplish. I am part time now to be with my baby girl… But when I decide to go back to work full time, sadly, I think I may leave the classroom to have a larger impact In another capacity.


    1. Philip,

      It was actually a bit painful to write. I already feel myself slipping away from relevance (that’s a blog post already in the queue), but–like you–I want to deepen the connections in my PLN. Maybe I need to do some more f2f and less digital.


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