I just finished my first week as a PYP Coordinator, my first week out of the classroom since I started to teach just over ten years ago. When all the teachers and students went into their classrooms, I was left standing there wondering what to do. As that first day progressed, I went through some interesting thought processes.
I became aware that it was very difficult for anybody to see what I did with my time. As a teacher, what you’re doing is pretty obvious to everybody. But, when you’re not teaching full-time, nobody really has a clue what you’re up to! I noticed that I started trying to do everything and deal with every situation that came up. I wanted to give every issue my attention, and respond to every person. By the end of the day, I felt as though I had achieved very little.
I also became aware that I was taking one small step towards becoming irrelevant. I already, after one week, feel much less knowledgeable about actual pedagogy, less in touch with the day-to-day complexities of teaching and less in tune with the way kids think. I need to be very careful that I don’t start to make decisions that reflect this growing distance from the hotbed of teaching itself, and do everything in my power to remain as close to it as possible.
Another thing I felt very strongly, was my lack of a learning space – a place in which learning takes place. Let’s face it, an office is no place of learning.
By the end of the week, thank goodness, I felt I was starting to settle in to it a bit more. I spent lots of time with teachers in planning meetings, lots of time sitting in classrooms doing things with students and I also got in and did some teaching. I found myself doing many of the same behaviours as when I was teaching full-time. I made a planning book for the week and started using it immediately. I started gathering and creating resources to use with teachers. I designed tasks to do in meetings that were very similar to the types of things I would do with students. I helped people out when they needed help, I gave advice about next steps and I tried my best to nurture the talents that exist within the team of teachers I work with. As the week, progressed, I began… more and more… to understand Kevin Bartlett’s “Cauliflower Principle” idea… and more and more determined to apply it to the way I do my job.