I taught high school math for six years. No doubt, it was challenging. I grew frustrated with the generalizations that teaching was an easy occupation and that the solutions were simple.
Here are a few fictitious examples that aren't necessarily related to pedagogical strategies learned in teacher prep programs:
- motivating Suzie who doesn't see the need to graduate high school
- helping Johnny learn the three big ideas he missed while he was out sick for two weeks
- working with Amanda, a student who is having difficulties focusing in school because her parents are going through a divorce at home.
Add in the complexity of assessment and grading that many of us are interested in and the job doesn't get any easier. Providing quality feedback to students is great in theory, but challenging in practice. Bill lays it out nicely here.
I'm in my second year as a district administrator. No doubt, it's a challenging gig, too. I'm equally frustrated with the generalizations and simple solutions related to professional development and instructional leadership.
Here are a few fictitious examples that aren't necessarily related to leadership strategies learned in administrator prep programs:
- confronting Jeff, a staff member who is allegedly stalking a co-worker
- delegating tasks to Brenda, a secretary who continuously tries to undercut her supervisor's authority
- working in an office without a secretary once Brenda has been let go
Add in the ongoing balance of management tasks such as government and legal regulations with instructional leadership activities such as classroom walk throughs and meeting with teams of teachers -- the job doesn't get any easier.
The purpose of this commentary isn't to suggest that one occupation is more challenging than the other. It is merely a way I hope to briefly illustrate the complexities of both roles. I believe many of our challenges lie within the system rather than the people themselves. Teachers and administrators, let's work together to find solutions to the challenges we both face in the system!