Should I move to a new school?

I have a special treat for you today!  I belong to several different teacher groups.  The other day, we were having an interesting discussion about moving.  Should teacher A move to a new school?  What are the pros and cons of moving?  Is it a case of jumping out of the frying pan into the fire? Jane Koch, a music teacher in Grand Island, NE has some experience with being the new kid on the block since she has taught in different states.  She shared her theory about the grass is always greener.  I asked her if she would be willing to share her thoughts as my guest blogger.

Where is the Grass the Greenest?

Having spent the past 30 years teaching in four different states I have found that there are many teachers who think, “the grass is greener in District X.” I listen and wonder what is it that they think District X has or is doing that is making District W seem so dead, desolate or overgrown with weeds.

“The parents in District X are more involved in their child’s education.”
That is often unfair. I know that the parents in District W truly care how their students are doing. They tell me so. They also tell me how grateful they are for this opportunity of education for their child. They tell me this through an interpreter. They tell me this with their eyes, with a heartfelt handshake and often with broken English. I have taught in District X. It is easy for parents there to hover and rush in wanting explanations for everything that is upsetting to their child. They are often “more involved” because they are not working the night shift and just trying to keep their household on steady ground.

“The administration in District X is great.”
What exactly does that look like? Is a supportive administrator someone who leaves you alone, never to darken your door? Or is it someone who randomly walks in and wants to know what is happening in your room that day? I have been fortunate. I have always had that type of administrator.  But I know that not all teachers can say that.

“The students in District X are better.”
What are the students in District W doing wrong? Do they sometimes show frustration, become disrespectful at times, get lazy, arrive late, and forget to turn in homework? The list can be long. The good and bad news is: our students are human. Things totally unrelated to school affect them and yet no matter how they try, sometimes they let it seep into their school day.  Do we as teachers do this, too? Yes, unfortunately, we sometimes do, too.

Every District has issues. There are crummy administrators, hateful and inept co-workers; families who struggle, students who regardless of how we stand on our heads remain apparently apathetic.  But the students will always be there in front of us. Many of them wondering if you will be their gardener. Bringing out the best in them, helping them see that you realize they are amazing young people even on the days they don’t believe it of themselves.

So where is the grass the greenest? If you have never left your own yard it is easy to think the yard down the street looks better. Sometimes it is. But should we neglect our own grass hoping that someone else will do it? Sometimes you have to pull out the weeds. Sometimes staff and/or administrators need to leave and occasionally the strongest and most beautiful blades are inexplicably uprooted. In the end, every year new students and new staff are planted – reseeding that grass again and again.

I will leave you with the words of Kermit . . . . 

Jane Koch just finished her 30th year of teaching music. Most of that time has been as vocal music teacher in MN, IA, KS and currently NE.  Jane currently teaches middle school choir, show choir and general music in Grand Island, NE where students learn guitar, keyboards and theatre. She is married to a wonderful man that she has followed around the Midwest. They have two grown children and one grandson, Dylan, named after Bob Dylan!

4 comments said...

I really don't think the grass being greener is the best example of your problem. I have a very green lawn. My neighbor often compliments me on it. He doesn't know that I've lost the weed battle and have started cutting my lawn super short so the weeds don't show. I have to cut it multiple times a week to pull off this ruse. That being said schools/districts are very tricky. The district you know you and the one that looks like everything you're lacking. I'd say stay put for another year while you realy find out how this new district keeps it's grass so nice.

Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas said...

I really enjoyed reading this and I've pinned it for other teachers.
Thank you,

Unknown said...

Thanks Fern! - I am not contemplating moving to a new school. I love my current school/position. Teach123 asked me if I would write an article touching on the problem that many educators face each year. My purpose was to relate that no district is perfect and that we need to just do the best we can for those precious students facing us each day.

Theresa said...

I'm actually in the process of leaving my first and only position after 26 years. When the "weeds" over power the "St. Augustine", it's time for a new brand of sod. My new sod is in the same town, just across the highway, one grade level higher. As I begin meeting my new colleagues (most of whom I taught in middle school), I know I've made the right decision.