Reflections of My Career Decisions

Yuangshuo Village & Li River. Yuangshuo Village & Li River – Flickr Creative Commons

The past few weeks have been a daily struggle for me as I look at my career choices and where I want to go with my career and how I need to proceed to get there. My need for change is evident. Change in what sense, is a whole different issue. I’m not entirely positive exactly what I’m looking for.

Two years ago, I knew that being a Business/Marketing Ed teacher, my position would possibly be on the chopping block one day. I was tired of never knowing if I’d get cut, or be forced to travel again. I was the only one in my department in my building. One is a lonely number when you are trying to collaborate. And let’s face it, sixth grade keyboarding after six years tends to not be very interesting any longer. Because I was losing my interest in my content quickly,  I knew this was my catalyst for the change I needed to make. As I watched my colleagues teaching the core content areas, I knew that was where I wanted to be. I enrolled at the University of Oshkosh through their Excel Program and in one year earned my General Education license (777 license) for grades 1-8.

I started contemplating what I wanted to do with this new licensure. Stay teaching keyboarding for a few more years until some positions opened up in my building or other buildings or make a move to a new school, grade level, or even a new district. After much discussion with my husband, we felt that one more year where I was, mainly to see what would happen with the politics in the state, was my best option. And then my world was turned upside down!  My district decided to change a few of the Library Media Specialist positions into four Instructional Technology Integration Specialists. Hello dream job! After more discussions in our household and much uncertainty for the future, I applied and was accepted to be a member of my now wonderful ‘Tech Team.’

The past nine months have been a whirlwind of change, growing, and reflecting for me. The district tasked us with getting a 1:1 program up and running, and coaching our staff in how to integrate technology into their classrooms. Two huge feats that we’ve managed to concur this year. Next year, we will be running the largest Chromebook 1:1 program in Wisconsin, with roughly 2200 devices in our high school. We’ve created an amazing amount of professional development for our staff and have remained focused on the tasks we have been given.

My job has continued to be my dream job. I am still able to be in the classroom (although I hope more of this happens next year), I get to train teachers which, it turns out, I love, and I get to play with cool technology all day. However, something just isn’t right. What do I need to change?

The past six weeks has had me trying to really figure this out. Our middle schools will be on a block schedule next year – 86 minutes to a class period and there are English positions open. I’ve thought about going back to the classroom. I can’t lie about that. This sounds like an amazing thing, made more amazing with the fact that I’d be teaming with some of my favorite people in the world. After serious consideration, I thought I had made my decision. I was going back to the classroom. I had everything in place and ready to go, except for the conversation I was dreading….the one with my boss. The conversation went  well and he made me realize that I was running away from my dream job simply because I was scared of the future. My thoughts started to turn back to staying where I was. I mean, could I really leave without getting to fully see what our high school would look like as a 1:1 environment?

Then, I received a colleague’s Techie Bucket List for next year and I was reminded of why I love my job. She wants to blog with her students, use Twitter, flip her classroom for at least a unit, create a personal blog, and work more with digital stories. Yep, she is pretty incredible. I know that she is beyond capable of doing these all on her own, but the fact that she wants my input means a ton. My job allows me to fully support her in whatever she needs to meet her tech goals. My job is flexible enough that I am able to actually team teach with her if she wants me to. If I were teaming with her at the middle school, I wouldn’t have this flexibility and I’d be bogged down with the daily stresses of teaching my own classroom and wouldn’t be able to support her goals. Here, I get to make sure that I making her life and the lives of my colleagues easier as they increase their technology integration in their classrooms.

I also realized after reading her bucket list, that I knew what else was missing. This is the first year I have not taken at least one class since my start of kindergarten in 1986. I know that I am – yes, that corny life long learner phrase – and need to have that stimulation. My colleague and I have taken several classes together over the years to keep current on technology integration and she was my reminder that this was the first year we didn’t have class together. Recently, I have started thinking about a possible second Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction. I’m fascinated with curriculum, instruction and assessment and love to coach others in creating new instructional methods and utilizing what they are doing and cultivating those into best practices. This second Masters degree is on hold unfortunately until political pieces change or my children are out of daycare. Unless I can find a grant to go back to school again.

My need for change is not a physical need. It’s a mental one. My job has been consumed by setting the particulars of a huge 1:1 rollout and working with staff that are resistant at times about changing their methods, only because they haven’t taught in an environment where students all have access to a device at all times.  Next year, I believe my job will have a new ‘feel’ to it. We are seeing more staff begging for the technology now and wanting to use it and are asking for help and taking advantage of professional development opportunities. My job will focus on my talents and strengths next year and therefore, I’m hoping, provide that mental change I am craving.