I'm not new to teaching. I've been at this for twenty-six years, six of those in special education, eleven as a second grade classroom teacher and team leader, and five as an instructional specialist/coach. Let me also say I'm in my sixties, a time when many are looking toward that distant dream of retirement. I'm different, though. I just sort of have a feeling I'm not done, yet. I think there are things out there I'm supposed to do, and they're just waiting for me to show up.
I recently read The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery by Sarah Lewis. One chapter that particularly intrigued me was one entitled "The Deliberate Amateur." It is about people in many walks of life who have all the credentials they could ever hope to possess, and could easily ride the wave of their previous successes safely into the beyond. But something goaded them into pursuing a new course. They intentionally and with great purpose positioned themselves to start over as an amateur.
That's what I have done. Last year, I went back to school and got my Administrative Certification and am now serving as Assistant Principal at Hickey Elementary in Plano ISD. I am becoming intentionally new and am putting myself in a position of having to learn a whole new set of skills and competencies. I had a good job at another Plano school. In fact, I had been there for twenty years and was extremely comfortable. Too comfortable, in fact.
I think when you get to the place where you feel you could phone in the job, it's time to move along. We owe our students the responsibility of showing up every day charged and informed and excited about what that day will bring. I can't honestly say I felt that way. I knew the job of instructional support coach and was competent at it, even though certain aspects of it continued to evolve. It wasn't difficult to make those small adjustments and just keep plugging along. The road got longer, the path got deeper, but I wasn't sure I was making a difference anymore.
Our district slogan for this new school year is "Make Your Mark," and I'm ready to make mine. C.S. Lewis said, "You are never too old to set a new goal or dream another dream." In "The Road Not Taken" Robert Frost described the crossroads of decision that face so many of us in life. In another place, he said, "In three words, I can sum up everything I've learned about life. It goes on." I'm going on with it.
So here I am, intentionally new, my own version of a deliberate amateur. Ready to learn. Ready to grow. Ready to change. Ready to influence. Ready to lead.