“What shall we do, what shall we do!” he cried. “Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves!” he said, and it became a proverb, though we now say 'out of the frying-pan into the fire' in the same sort of uncomfortable situations.
excerpt from The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
I had taught French for three years between two high schools. I had a routine. I had a supportive network of educators I considered family. I had great students. Suddenly, a tech coordinator position became available in my district and I applied. I was prepared to facilitate professional development thanks to my summer job working with Dr. Terri Boman and the UA/UWA In-Service Center. I had always used technology in my classes to enhance learning. I created a portfolio documenting lesson plans and collaborative lessons including tweeting in French with @angiebush's class in Hunstville. (My kids were able to tweet phrases about the weather and their childhoods in French!)
It was a slow process of applying, waiting, and moving into the technology position. I have learned much as a tech coach I would not have learned in the classroom. I enjoy coaching teachers in technology usage. So much of being a tech coach is just being a people person - listening, brainstorming, offering suggestions. It's the same with being a good leader as well. Ultimately, people make their own decisions as to what they will do. Sometimes, they just need someone to process that idea with, someone who will help them just to think "What if...?".
Not only did I get to work with teachers in schools across our district, but I helped with our chromebook distribution this year in math and English classrooms for grades 8-12. I was there when students logged into chromebooks for the first time. I was the one showing teachers how to use Google Apps. I lead PD on ActivInspire software, Livebinders, STEAM, foreign language, library/media science, our new learning management system Canvas.
I was often praised as one with technology skills, when really, I just had an insatiable appetite to learn, discover, and solve problems just outside my grasp. I Google and YouTube like a champ. I credit this desire to research to my librarian mother. Librarians may not always know the answer, but, by golly, they can help you find it!
But I missed my kids. I had spent three years with students, crafting their hearts and minds to love the French language as I do. Something within me feels filled when I speak French. It's like I can communicate with all of myself to represent who I really am. I have missed that. I have also missed interacting with students on a daily basis. I miss teaching students. I miss evaluating how to teach a concept, how to present the same information in multiple ways to different students in order that they learn French. Teaching and coaching both address ways to solve problems but as a classroom teacher, you can see more fruit of understanding in a student's assessment rather than a teacher's use of tech.
Students are not afraid to fail. Students are open to trying new things. I enjoy learning with students. I enjoy those "ah ha!" moments. And I did have "ah ha!" moments with teachers, but it's just different.
So, after applying and seeing what would happen this summer, similar to summer 2012, I have accepted a position at Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Alabama, to teach French this school year! I am elated to be moving back into the classroom!
However, with much change comes much discomfort, hence moving out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Change is what you make of it - easy or difficult. I'm thankful to be moving to a school with administrators who tweet and are excited about my tech skills. More importantly, I'm excited to have colleagues who want to learn from each other. In my interview, I was asked "How do you collaborate with other teachers?" That question sealed the deal. I am very excited to be at a school where collaboration is an expectation from the beginning.
So, into the fire I go again. Out of the professional frying pan I have known for five years. I have lived in Tuscaloosa for almost ten years total, five as a college student and five as an educator. I am moving back to the town I called home for middle and high school, but the Ham has changed since 2003, as have I.
The fire is where we grow, not the frying pan. We get comfortable in the frying pan but the fire is where the magic happens. We are refined. We are challenged. We fail, and we learn from the failure. And then we adapt, grow, thrive, and succeed.
I am most assuredly excited to begin the school year at Oak Mountain High School this year. I am happy to be back in the classroom, happy to be speaking French, and happy to be a teacher again!