Saturday, March 6, 2010

When Values Collide: The Dilemma of Switching Schools

I hadn't actively set out to find another option for next year, though I wasn't completely surprised by my eager reaction to the news that a kindergarten position would be open in a private school I had learned about through my tutoring students. At the beginning of the school year, just days before school started, I had quickly turned down an opportunity at this school, as I had already committed to having a teaching intern this year. I also suffered from other fears: leaving and beginning anew so close to school starting, changing grade levels, and abandoning my teaching team.
So, here I am, after a wonderful first interview at this place that felt more like a peaceful retreat center than any school I had ever visited, gleeful thoughts racing, fears raging and guilt over leaving my school all intertwined in my mind. I know in my heart that I must push myself through the guilt, consider my own happiness first and foremost, and understand that I can help others best when I am peaceful and in a place congruent with my values of integrity, authenticity and a love for learning.
I know what some will say  I am bailing out of public education, abandoning the kids who need me most, running to an "easy" territory where I don't have to work as hard. Here is what I conclude: I am considering working in a place where I can truly teach, address the needs of all learners, and work harder because I am renewed by an environment where the whole child is valued.
This school has 8 basic standards that drive their instruction: Think, Read, Write, Learn Languages, Reason Mathematically, Know the Past, Think Scientifically, and Know Yourself.  The students go to Art, Music, P.E., Science, Spanish and Garden every week.  They offer scholarships to families who can't afford the tuition and are committed to including a diverse population at their school.
As I walked around the campus this week, I saw kids engaged in active learning, using technology to connect with others around the world, researching topics of interest, and kids attending a variety of special classes as I mentioned above.
This week I will return to teach a lesson and talk more with the staff about how I can contribute to the learning community there. I am excited, apprehensive, and grateful for this opportunity. Wish me luck!


  1. I might have missed it, did you get the job? It sounds like an amazing opportunity!!!!!!!And an amazing school too. You aren't bailing! These kids need you too! I think everything happens for a reason..and don't worry..there are many lining up to take your place and hopefully they will be as good (or near it ) as you are. GOOD LUCK. What's the latest w/ "susie"?

  2. Thanks so much Susie! Yes, I did get the job. Actually, I got offered a choice between Kindergarten and 4th grade and decided it's REALLY time for a big change. I want to work with kids who are already reading and writing and do lots with technology integration. I am very excited and going to visit the school for a couple days during my spring break the week after next!
    My lil cutie "Susie" has been doing ok; we have a new "class helper" who has poor boundaries and no training so it's been tough finding value in having someone extra in my classroom. BUT, we don't want to set a precedent for the district to back out in providing any help for her. This person isn't an aide, but her being there for 2 hours theoretically means I can teach kids to read and write and not be a bodyguard.
    Anyway, I am so happy to hear from you and I appreciate you asking.

  3. I'm so happy for you! I taught 4th grade in a wonderfully supportive environment before I had my daughter ~ it was amazing! I wish you the best.

  4. I think that knowing who you are and the opportunities that will allow you to thrive as a teacher and learner are few and far between. I want to share that I had a similar experience when applying for the job I currently have as a consultant. I knew it was the time and opportunity for me and had to leave behind a wonderful school and community of learners in order to have my needs met on my journey.

    Congrats to you and I look forward to hearing what this new experience will bring to you in the coming months and years.

    Keep me posted!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was initially very conflicted about my decision but I know now in my heart that it's the best for me and any kids I teach in the future. We can't be our best in an environment that stifles us being the most creative, innovative dynamic teachers we want to be. I appreciate your support. Thanks!