Why are you going back to work in your school district this year?

Perhaps “because the summer is over” is not a deep enough answer?

Why are you going back to School? Hot Lunch Tray

There are many jobs in any school district, but the vast majority of employees are in the classroom with students. If the last time classroom personnel made a decision to show up was right after college we might want to check in with everyone again. Education is a draining profession unless you renew your purpose and get in touch with where you want to go this year.

Listening to National Public Radio’s On Point I caught a replay of this segment on Life Coaching. While it is lengthy you may be interested:

Several thoughts shared on this program helped me really concentrated on a difference between where I am mid-career and where I was when I started teaching. In the beginning of my career I was assigned a mentor, but by mid-career I was asking for certain mentors and willing to mentor others.

Everyone needs a mentor. While this program was using the term Life Coach what the program described was the best relationships I have experienced with my mentors. I have had a formal or informal mentor in the three different states in which I taught. Two of them were perfect matches. The place where the match wasn’t what I needed I asked to be assigned to another; while that request was not granted I have always looked to that as the first time I advocated for my professional self unassisted. If luck does not assign you to someone seek out the person who can help you articulate what you want and need in your professional life.

A boss is not a mentor. I need to select my mentor(s) and pursue/discover what I am about, not follow the (only?) old-school path of “become-a-principal”. If you are a teacher your boss is likely a principal. What if you do not want to become a principal? That person might be able to help you, but most likely they can help someone become a principal. This program talked about Life Coaching as a more accessible offshoot of the mental health profession. So, a teacher might seek out another teacher who specializes in some practice at which s/he wants to become better him/herself. You don’t need to freak a colleague out calling them  your mentor, just be open to those kindred spirits with which you connect and help you grow professionally.

The NPR show gave me a nice parallel between mental health field : life coaching as formal education : the rise of self-education via the Internet. While mental health professionals are credentialed, much like colleges and universities, they lack the perspective(forward, not backward) and flexibility of life coaching, just like self-education can take multiples points-of-view and can be customized to the end users needs.

…mental health field : life coaching as formal education : the rise of self-education via the Internet.

You might be a mentor. I need to help move people along on their own path when and where I can. My success does not diminish when others succeed. I recently had the opportunity to attend an EdTechWomen event at #ISTE2014 and I am more convinced than ever that I have a purpose out there and I need to continue to connect with other people who kindly want to help me find that purpose. To do that I need to approach people with the attitude of “how can I help them?” to open myself up to being helped myself.

Is it you or your ‘years of service’?

Have educators always needed a mentor or is there something unique about right now?

Has teaching fundamentally changed? Maybe. I know technology has fundamentally changed many parts of our life. Education has tried very hard to resist. However the changes will be unstoppable within ten years as newer students and parents enter public school systems as some old-school leaders retire. Just as our economy cannot go back to isolationist/pre-global days, education will not be able to return to the teacher as the sole speaker, expert, and connection to the outside world.

Does everyone have certain feelings start of/mid/late career? Good question. I think every career path is unique. Because I believe this is the case I am increasingly bothered that such unique professionals receive the same cookie cutter professional development because that is how we have always done it. What does seem reasonable is that each teacher grows over time in the profession and would experience differing needs over a career. Again, each of these professionals with such unique growth patterns would logically want a customized experience for professional growth I hope.

What is next for teaching? I wish I knew. I think the analogy between mental health field : life coaching as formal education : the rise of self-education via the Internet is going to come to pass in public K12 education. Our current credentialing system is not designed to produce the type of classroom facilitators we will need for this event and a pivotal change will mark the transition from “teacher” to a “learning (life?) coach” for students experiencing education on a unique path. I have no idea how such a large-scale transition happens; I only hope I make it to that school year.

What is next for you?

Short of consulting a Magic Eightball for advice….

Am I waiting for someone else to professionally develop me? In a related post I point out that the old-style of career advancement in education was to patiently wait as your school leader, or designated professional development expert developed each teacher, in the same style as everyone else. In this ever flattening world individuals can reach out to wherever and whomever to satisfy their professional growth.

Entertain how some of us now view peers on Twitter as closer colleagues than people on our hall.

Consider the proliferation of free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for educational professionals on sites such as Coursera, Canvas, and EdX. While these might not count toward your next step in pay, they can develop and highlight who you are professionally and what you are about as contrasted to peers.

Find a mentor and talk over what you are thinking about doing next, let’s be what is next for each other.

What I hope is next for all of us is a connection between mentor-mentee which professionally develops both parties. That is something worth coming back to school for this year.