From time to time I have taken some of Seth Godin’s ideas and have related them to an educational setting. In previous posts, I have written about Alienating the 2%, Thinking of School as an Experience, and the Pleasant Reassurance of New Words.
A recent post, What’s your job? struck me. Teaching, and education in general, is such an interesting profession because there are multiple ways to teach successfully. To realize a common definition of our purpose (just what is the purpose of schooling or education?) and our role (what is an elevator speech for what teachers do?) is almost impossible. Godin writes:
What’s your job?
Not your job title, but your job. What do you do when you’re doing your work? What’s difficult and important about what you do, what change do you make, what do you do that’s hard to live without and worth paying for?
“I change the people who stop at my desk, from visitors to guests.”
“I give my boss confidence.”
“I close sales.”
If your only job is “showing up,” time to raise the stakes.
As a teacher, part of my job was to ensure my History 12 students did REALLY well on the government exam. I also thought my job was to ensure students were interested in pursuing more learning opportunities in English, Law and History after taking the class (hopefully) than before taking it. I also thought part of my job was to add value and create community beyond what students could find in a textbook or on the Internet.
Now, as superintendent, I think my job is to keep us moving in the right direction. And there are so many moving parts — from politics and labour issues to new curriculum and pedagogies. So, part of my current job is to ensure our district is more than a collection of independent contractors who share a common location. It can be challenging and it is always a balancing act — pushing and supporting, giving attention to one area at the expense of another and then readjusting the whole.
It would be interesting, if not challenging, to put a one-sentence reply on “what we do” on an organizational chart. So, back to where I started and “What’s your job?” There are so many different, innovative and fitting ways to do the job. The more superintendents I meet and come to know, the more I am impressed by their approach to leadership and how they have taken ownership of the ‘job’. The person who will follow me will make the job theirs and it will likely look very different from what it is now. Also likely, the people around them will have different approaches and facets to their jobs. Several highly accomplished superintendents in West Vancouver have shown us this through the years.
I think part of what is exciting and can also drive one crazy about education: is there one inclusive and all-encompassing answer to the “What’s Your Job” question?
I am curious to know what others see as their “job”.