Free Agent

I’m a teacher. I’m about to jump into the unknown and take on a new job somewhere else for the next school year. Where? I’m not exactly sure yet, but I’ve had a few conversations and interviews. For someone who thought they would stay in the same district forever, the same place where I learned how to be a teacher and where I honed my ninja-like instructional strategies, it is kind of exhilarating to be presented with options. (Of course, I’ve only come to this state of grace after dealing with the debilitating paralysis of fear that comes with submitting your resignation in March, a good three months before the end of the school year.) Yet, I’ve garnered some interest, as they say in the biz! I know I’ll find a job, but in the meantime it is fun to contemplate a variety of potential destinations. It’s a cool place to be, despite the raging terror I feel about my uncertain future. It got me thinking. What if finding a new job in education was akin to professional sports, like an Educational Draft? Indulge me.

Let us go now to the press conference already under way in New York…

It has been great being a member of this organization. I learned the basics here. I started out as a developmental, support player. I did my post-bachelor college career under the tutelage of an outstanding staff of coaches and teachers. I went through my first and only draft with this team. It has been home. And from my rookie season on, I have had the pleasure of calling the home team my own. It is in those hallowed halls that I developed into a strong, dependable player with a creative skill-set and the classroom management of a Buddhist monk. It is a style some commentators have called “effortless,” even when league officials rated my performance as merely efficient. However despite continuing to have an outstanding roster of deep, versatile players, I find that I am no longer able to facilitate wins under these circumstances.

So, after nearly fifteen years with my current team I am taking my talents to the free market and the next phase of my career.

There will be talk of disloyalty, of personality conflicts, of disagreements with coaches, of management troubles, of questionable decisions made by all parties involved, but the truth is we’ve been struggling for the past few years. I think the great Ann Sullivan once said that “we can become so focused on the task at hand that we become deaf & blind to our needs and sometimes in order to grow, you have step away.”** By leaving, I am opening up opportunity for younger, newer players. And I will continue to pursue the highest level of competition. My talents deserve a home where they can grow and where I can contribute on and off the court of educational play.

I am currently in negotiations with a plethora of quality organizations. There will be the customary declarations that I am merely over-paid talent with a consistently under-whelming performance, but my detractors don’t have to live in my shoes. Authentic, quality performers know the REAL score.

So what if our multi-year contracts and ridiculous salaries are unfathomable to the work-a-day person on the street? As a key player in the sport of education for over a decade I think it is my prerogative to seek a new home, whatever I’m paid. As Jaime Escalante was fond of reminding the LAUSD*, “I will bring home a championship. Bet on it, burros!”

A lot of people don’t understand how teachers can demand top-dollar salaries with a straight face, but when you are at the top of your game, you want to be part of a team that is going places and making things happen. And to make that happen costs money. The millions I will make in coming years is nothing when measured against the bright futures of the students who will enter my classroom. As Horace Mann often said, “good teachers have their finger on the pulse and they should be compensated like pirates!” (To be fair, Treasure Island was a really popular book in Horace Mann’s day.)

So, it is with a heavy heart that I throw my hat in the ring (to be snapped up by the highest bidder, no doubt!) and walk away from the only team I’ve ever known. I know the fans and students will struggle with closure, but it’s what’s best for me…

Could you imagine a world where the Educational Draft existed and was as discussed and covered as the NBA draft? Amazing, right? But alas, it only exists in my fictionally-twisted mind.

**All quotes are obviously made up & ridiculous!
*Los Angeles Unified School District where Escalante actually did more than stand and deliver.

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