I taught English for 13 years. Now I teach teachers. What a cool and strange feeling it is to reboot your career and refocus your life on a new passion. My skill set is the same, but I am applying it in a wholly new capacity. My experiences are the same, but they happen in wholly new places.
When I was in the classroom, I was fortunate enough to work with administrators who understood the power of professional development. They encouraged me to attend conferences and seek out new ideas for my classroom. They encouraged me to share those ideas with my colleagues. I was all too happy to do that. I attended the Mississippi Educators Computing Association, or MECA, while I was teaching. I went with the goal of finding those new ideas. I also wanted to get the cool swag that comes with any good conference. It was fun. I was “wined and dined” and my business was courted.
Not too long ago I attended MECA while working for SchoolStatus. This was a different animal, but, I think, it was the same species. I wasn’t there to find new ideas; I was there to share them. I wasn’t there to get cool swag either; I was there to give it away. One thing stood out to me as I reflected on my time at MECA this year - I moved from the classroom with the goal of teaching teachers and that is exactly what I did. You’re reading this, so you’re probably involved in education. You know that undeniably amazing feeling you get when you recognize understanding in your student. Want to know something cool? That same feeling happens when we help a teacher find an answer to a question they’ve had about their classroom.
Teaching a teacher is just like teaching a student. Teachers think they already know it, or even worse, they don’t want to know it. They have professional development foisted on them, they have been teaching for years, they have a student that you just wouldn’t understand, one that is really hard to reach because… Bear with me for a second now: that teenager in your classroom, they think they already know it, or worse, they don’t want to know it. They have school foisted on them, they’ve been reading the same thing for years, they have this teacher that you just wouldn’t understand, one that is just really hard to pay attention to…
We teachers are our own worst enemies when it comes to learning something new. We often avoid PD because we know that our administration will have a new idea or technique next month that we need to work into our lesson plans. I often had that same mentality, but think of it from a different perspective, from that of the teacher when someone learns something new in your class or your PD, they might not take all of that with them in the future, but if they take one new idea, one small thing and it makes their job easier, then that is worth it.
I know that many of my students won’t remember all the lines of of Hamlet’s “To Be or Not To Be” speech, but if they are watching a TV show or a movie someday in the future and they get the allusion, I’ve done my job. (If, like some of my former students, they go on to teach English, they had better point out the allusion.) If I give a teacher a new idea and they use part of it or if they change it to suit their classroom, I have done my job. The incredible thing, the thing that most excites me about SchoolStatus and about teaching teachers, about leading PD, about sharing ideas with teachers is that when they have that “ah ha” moment, that moment of sudden understanding, they will take that back to their classrooms, they will use it to drive instruction, they will make a difference in a student’s life. If I can make a difference in a teacher’s day, I can make a difference in a student’s day. If I can reach 100 teachers at MECA, I can reach 10,000 students. That is amazing.
I love being a teacher. When people ask me what I do, I automatically tell them that I am a teacher - and I am. I love teaching, I have a passion for it. I also love great literature. I loved teaching Shakespeare. I loved that students would start out thinking that this is some old dead guy that they won’t care about and won’t have a connection with. Then there is a slow build until the day in class when they ask to read Shakespeare. I think I was at my best when I was teaching Shakespeare’s plays. I think I was at my best because my passion for great literature grew through my teaching.
Great literature is still a passion of mine, but I have a new one too. I have a passion for helping teachers be successful. I loved going to conferences as a teacher, and I love it now. There are new reasons to love teaching though. I love it now because I can make an impact on teachers. I can help teachers be better. Being a part of the moment of sudden understanding, standing there as teachers realize something they didn’t know before - I have to tell you, it is better than when it happens with students. There is just something magical about that moment. I was a student once, then I became a teacher. I am a teacher still, but now I hope to be something more.
Curious what kind of things Tyler is teaching teachers? Here's a hint: it has to do with parental engagement, and it DOESN'T involve a call log. Find out more about communicating via Channel by SchoolStatus HERE.