Teachers think before you aspire …and then think again

The promotion: Part 1

Let’s assume that you’re doing well in your current teaching role. You have a hands-on approach to your work and have a direct impact on your students’ success. The students love and respect you, and you are delighted with your professional relationships. In fact, you consider yourself to be an exemplary leader among peers. You know that you are a good teacher, and you love it.

And then comes the day when you see an opportunity for “promotion.”  A vacancy is advertised, you are approached and asked to take on an acting role, or you are strongly encouraged to apply for an upcoming vacancy for a more senior and administratively responsible role. You are flattered, as it seems that this is a clear recognition of your quality work. Of course, that is precisely what it is. However, the “promotion” is actually a fork in the road. The things you are great at are not what you will need to do in the new job.

You have the necessary background skills, but they will not be the mainstay of the new direction. Typically, you will have less time to work directly with learners, and you will spend much more time strategising. The days will be filled with facilitating planning sessions, managing resources and funding, improving facilities, and drafting and implementing policy. You will have become someone who “used to” teach.

When you engage with others, it will be to resolve their problems. These problems often have been created by them, and their arrival at your doorstep will see them with a monkey on their back that they are desperately trying to give over to you. You will mediate, cajole, placate, sympathise, and set them on their way. But you won’t be teaching.

Depending on the type of school, you might find yourself worrying about marketing, data analysis, stakeholder and community relations, load planning, and event management. And you won’t be teaching. You will cruise the school grounds and talk to students, but the conversations will be strangely superficial. Basically, you have been “promoted” away from your strengths.

Some people thrive, and yet most do not. For many, the whole exercise is stressful and depressing. The apprenticeship for the new role has had no direct bearing on the required expertise in the promotion. The fork in the road brought a new destination and daily experience. So think, and think again. What is the path for you?

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