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Why I Left the Classroom for Administration

Posted by on in Education Leadership
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"So there looks like there might be an opportunity for you."

At the time when I heard this, I was literally in the middle of having my best teaching year. My sixth grade blended learning classroom was going better than I could ever have imagined. I was "teaching like a PIRATE," engaging and empowering my students, making learning relevant and meaningful to them, learning along side of my students every day, watching them get that love for learning back, and getting to know my students better than ever. And yet, a career opportunity came up that made me leave all of that. 

Why I Thought Left

When I was told, "So there looks like there might be an opportunity for you," I knew it was to step in as acting elementary principal for another principal in my district who needed to take a leave of absence. I did not know how long it would be, but I knew I had to take it. Opportunities like these do not come along often, and if I wanted to take the next step in my career, it began with this opportunity. While it was an easy decision to make, it was, at the same time, the most difficult career decision I ever had to make. I was leaving behind just an absolute incredible group of students, who were doing incredible things day after day. They wanted to come into my class every day. I wanted to come to school every day. There were no discipline issues. They pushed themselves to learn more than they did the day before. They pushed me to make the next day better for them than the day before. And yet, I left them for an opportunity.   

Why I Really Left

As it turned out, I was able to return to my classroom and my students that year after spending seven weeks as acting principal. The principal I was filling in for returned from his leave of absence. I was thrilled to be going back to my students and finishing out the year with them. It just felt like the right thing. However, I was sad to leave the school I was filling in at as principal and those amazing people there. My time as principal was eye-opening to say the least, but it did let me know that I wanted to pursue administration more. At the end of that school year, I found out that the principal I was in for needed to take another leave of absence beginning in June. I ended up spending most of last year as acting principal and it appears the same will be true this year. 

During this summer, I saw a lot of my former students around town. The same students I left for seven weeks to be principal. So many great memories and feelings would rush back when I saw them, and it made me ask myself, "Why? Why did I leave my students and my classroom?" It wasn't that I regretted my decision to leave the classroom to pursue administration, it was that I needed to answer my why. I reflected often trying to answer my why, and what I discovered was that those students who gave me so much then, have continued to give me so much now. They have answered my why and why I decided to leave my students and my classroom. 

I realize now that I left because I want to have more of an impact than just on my classroom and my students. I want to be able to help give a building full of other teachers and students the same excitement and passion for learning that my students and I had that year. I want teachers and students to feel engaged and empowered; to have learning relevant and meaningful to them; to have teachers feel energized and excited to learn along side of their students every day as I did; and to watch both students and teachers develop their love for learning even more. That is why I left. 

My students that year taught me more than I taught them, and I am still learning from them today. 

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William Madden holds a B.S. in Elementary Education and a Master's in Educational Leadership. His professional backgrounds includes over 16 years in education as an intermediate school teacher, an elementary school principal, instructional technology coach, and Google for Education Certified Trainer. In addition, his experience includes online course design, technology integration, ELA and mathematics curriculum mapping, being on his school's technology and building improvment committees, and conducting professional development. He blogs to reflect on his practice, share with others, and to continue to grow and learn as an educator to meet the needs of today's students. 

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Guest Thursday, 20 September 2018