Saturday, May 17, 2014

How to Find the Time to be a Teacher Leader and Still Teach

"Teaching is not a job; it's a lifestyle."  This is one of my guiding principles, as it is for many other educators.  This is especially true for those who are Teacher Leaders.  I always have my hands in so many projects outside of my full-time career that it sometimes becomes overwhelming.  When one project is finished, two or three more are patiently waiting for me.

As of the writing of this post, I am current president of the Kentucky Educators for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, where we are working on our upcoming annual summer conference; a member of the Kentucky Education Commissioner's Teacher Advisory Council; leading a group of itinerant teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing in the creation of an e-guide on how the new TPGES system connects to DHH teachers; and was recently selected as a member of the 2014 - 2016 Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council.  This doesn't even include all the mini-projects that I continuously have on my plate, such as advocating for the needs of our DHH students.  AND, I still have 10 students preschool through high school in 8 different schools on my caseload.  We still have 2 more weeks of school left.

The question that I face again and again is how in the world I can possibly do all that I do AND have time to teach and have a family.  It is a good question; I wish I knew the answer.

What I do know is that with the Teacher Leadership Movement happening across the state and the creation of hybrid teaching roles where teachers spend part of their day educating students and the other part acting as a leader, there has to be a way to create such a hybrid role for someone like me.

Most DHH teachers are the only teacher in the entire district serving all the DHH students.  How could a hybrid role exist for such a person?  Who will educate the rest of the students on the caseload while the DHH teacher is acting in a leadership role?  In my district there is another DHH teacher, but she has a full caseload in a self-contained classroom.  If I spend 2-3 hours per day teaching half of my students (I see each individually at their home school), will another DHH teacher need to be hired to teach the other half while I am serving as a Teacher Leader?  What will that person do the rest of the school day? I would be even happy to serve in hybrid capacity for 5 hours per week, dedicating this time solely to DHH Teacher Leader projects.

I am sure this is the same a question that other Teacher Leaders who are in similar specialized fields have.  How can an art teacher who is solely responsible for traveling to each elementary school in the district become a Teacher Leader in a hybrid position?  How can the sole Biology teacher at the only high school in a district become one?

As the Teacher Leadership Movement progresses and the desire for hybrid roles increase, let's think about how people like me can have the best of both worlds: continue to educate students in order to stay connected and current in the profession AND have time to work on the multitude of Teacher Leader projects and initiatives that are necessary for student success.

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