Friday, March 15, 2013

Moving Up in Education?

There should be a sense of excitement and encouragement with regard to "moving up" as an educational professional, but in many ways this movement is met with a range of emotion.  Why?

I think this is true because for some "moving up" means "moving away" from students and teaching.  The upward mobility in education is a path where moving up is seen as a positive movement and suggests that staying in the ranks of classroom teaching and coaching is not as positive. The financial rewards and role/time flexibility of "moving up" support this notion. In many cases though, we're talking about two very different jobs as what a classroom teacher does and what an educational administrator does differ in many regards.

There needs to be leadership in education, and there needs to be highly qualified teachers and coaches.  The best leaders recognize the difference in the two jobs and work to support, encourage and lift up the potential and possibility for classroom teachers, while those who are not as positive put "ambition ahead of mission" and don't serve teachers or students as well.  Those leaders that don't serve teachers or students well have a top-down, controlling attitude that puts them above the teacher or coach whereas the most positive leaders have an attitude of collaboration, shared problem solving, respect and transparency.

To "move up" in some systems is tricky business that necessitates political savvy and favors, while systems with clear mission, role definition and practice create "moving up" processes and roles that are fair pickings for any professional interested in a role change.

I'm in favor of role audits and reviews in education today.  I believe the skills, talents and interests of positive education leaders differ in many ways from the roles of teachers--I don't always think that "moving up" means that a teacher moves to leadership, but instead I think there should be many ways to "move up" and many roles of advancement in education. I think the current education roles are too narrow and mirror old factory notions in too many ways.

I'm not sure what the new roles would be or how new pathways to advancement and leadership would be created, but I do believe it's an area in education that needs reconsideration and revision. What do you think?