As we know, in most cases, teachers cannot just be the teacher. We are often asked (or made) to take up space in the school in a variety of other capacities. These range from being the Sports/Cultural Administrator of a particular extracurricular activity, or being HOD of a subject or discipline, or Grade Head, even Deputy Head. This is the reality of many teachers who wear many hats.
I am said teacher. I am the leader of my mathematics, maths literacy and economics classroom. Beyond that, I am the Head of Grade 11 and a committee member of the Examination Committee. I might as well add Prize Giving Committee as well (experience from last year – we’ll see later in this year). I must admit, in the beginning, it felt really good. I get a high feeling when I tackle a new challenge. Unfortunately, that feeling dies down when I’m doing the thing for too long. It has been too long now.
One of my stances on education is that every teacher needs a teaching assistant. Or at the very least there has to been teaching assistants for the school in a good proportion to how big the school actually is. Teachers, myself included, are doing too much. We are wearing too many hats, we are acting as too many people for the school and for the learners – parent/guardian, nurse, social worker, councillor, mentor and more on top of the above-mentioned leadership positions.
I had a conversation in which I asked, “What if I don’t want to do this anymore?” I know very well that it is within my right to resign from some of these responsibilities. I just needed to know all my options, as well as why I feel this way. What can be done for me to feel like I’m not dropping the ball while still delivering my best. Let’s be honest we all drop a few balls on a weekly/daily basis because we are human to do so but it doesn’t mean we aren’t trying.
I sat in thought and reflection, I’m hired to be a teacher and I acknowledge that my primary point of leadership is within my classroom. Because I like trying new challenges, I try all these other leadership caps on. However, I’m now in a position to say I’ve been there, done that, and this does not serve my purpose any longer (not all of it, some of it). This was difficult to say because teachers are not known to easily say no, especially when the point of the act is phrased and manipulated in a way to justify that the end result is ultimately for the benefit of the learner. This is usually the case (a sort of guilty feeling).
I believe that teaching is a type of Servant Leadership; you are always doing things for others. That’s a really good feeling when it actually helps and when you are properly acknowledged for all that you sacrifice. The profession as a whole, sometimes leans towards the Slavery side when we aren’t properly acknowledged and when the DBE takes credit and when people feel entitled to your time and your energy while giving nothing back in return. It hurts and it is a key indicator why many leave the classroom and schools in general. For some, I believe teaching is not the calling but being in the education space/industry is. Let me know if there are any offers, I might be interested 😅 if it meant wearing fewer caps.
Thank you for your time. Many blessings to you and yours
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