Some day you will look back and know exactly why it had to happen. unknown
Board. Initiated. Transfer.
Three words that I never would have associated with my performance as an educator, leader, professional, and colleague. But there it was. A board of education mandated change of teaching environment. Without employee consultation. I was being moved. My recourse? Resign. Or take an extended leave of absence for next year. Both were viable and ready options to consider.
In my experience (rightly or wrongly), the board initiated transfer had become a process synonymous as the involuntary relocation of the trouble-making teacher to another employment environment. I had witnessed only two similar scenarios in my two-decades plus career in education. In both dramas, the candidates were struggling. Struggling with administrators. Struggling with colleagues. Struggling with students. And struggling to find their niche in a particular learning environment.
So, naturally, I feared the worst…
Fall Seven, Rise Eight
After my healthy mishmash of anger, resentment, mourning, confusion, and frustration had subsided, I realized that had lots to ponder and reflect upon. And the more I shared my story with those close to me, the more I realized that the move, in fact, was a positive one. For me. For my family. For my new students. For my new colleagues. For my new school community.
By the following morning I found myself overwhelmed with compassion and gratitude, and grabbed the new opportunity by the hand. And, ultimately, I re-framed the message (which I misinterpreted from the outset). I was needed elsewhere. I possessed a very unique and coveted skill set. I’m not a trouble-maker. In fact, I’m an innovator. I’m a leader. I take risks in my approach to teaching and learning. I am an educator that believes strongly in holistic pedagogy. (i.e. emotional, social, physical, spiritual, and psychological of the child). I thrive on flexibility and connection. I recognize that deep learning is messy, but enriching.
This, I told myself, is a very good thing.
Surprisingly, I became so aligned with the perks of the proffered opportunity that I declined an interview for a position that I was more than qualified to assume. Upon reflection, I know that this was not a capitulation. It was a recognition. I shared with respected senior leadership the rationale for withdrawing my name and passing on the possibility at a newly created and highly coveted position; how a leader wrestles with change; sits in the discomfort of perceived powerlessness; and comes through the other side a better person:
After a great deal of consideration, I would like to withdraw my name from the short list for interviews. I am embracing the change that has been handed to me and move forward with my decision to honour the transfer to Wildflower this coming fall. It will be an exciting, and no doubt, challenging year for me. But some of my most powerful strengths as a teacher are in the connections that I make with kids and their families. As a classroom teacher this is where these skills are most effective, most useful, and create change and opportunity for supporting learners in our district.
Forever a supporter of my ambitions and goals within education, the Director of Human Resources shared her thoughts on my board initiated transfer, and more importantly, my response to the unexpected change (resilience is, after all, one of the school board goals for student learning):
You will do an amazing job at WF [Wildflower School] – I know the idea of the change was initially difficult, but I have complete and utter faith that this is a great move for you – and for the learning community at WF. I am thrilled to see your message [above].
It has been nearly three weeks since the momentous mindshift. I haven’t looked back. I am looking ahead. To September. To change. To challenge.
I won’t sugarcoat my deep fears. I’m nervous. I feel exposed. And somewhat vulnerable, too. An enormous amount of preparation, planning, and work lay ahead.
But, I’m ready.