(This post was written 5/1/09 but is just now being published)

As a result of decisions made by the leaders in my district, today has been a day of great change in my life and I now find my professional career taking a turn in a direction that was unforeseen just few months ago, but welcomed. Let me preface this whole reflection by stating that this change isn’t a bad thing. It’s simply a change due to uncontrollable circumstances in our struggling economy and I am grappling with what this means for me as an educator.

So I found out today that I will no longer be a technology coach for 2 of the 3 middle schools in our district. This is a job I have been lucky enough to do for the past 2 years, something I have grown to love and developed a sincere passion for! Part of me is sad, part of me is bitter and part of me is excited about the change on the horizon. I am full of mixed emotions to say the least. I know, you are thinking ‘enough already…suck it up…these are tough times and you are one of thousands losing their jobs so stop being so selfish.’ Yes, I am losing my job but thankfully I am able to slide right into another position (7th grade social studies-civics/geography) in the same district without missing a beat. Also, I am sensitive enough to realize that unfortunately this isn’t the case for many people suffering lay-offs in our “jacked-up” economy. So please know that I am not writing to complain or blame. I am grateful!

Let me start by saying that I have never lost a job. And I have had my share of jobs…from digging holes and laying sod, surveying houses, loading/blasting thousands of pounds of high-explosives in holes in a quarry, delivering pizzas for Domino’s to bagging groceries at the local supermarket. During all my years of employment, I have never been asked to leave a job…until today. No, it wasn’t a total surprise. Rumors have been floating around for a few months and I had somewhat prepared for the possibility of being cut. In fact, I already my eye on a classroom position just in case I got this news. But it still doesn’t make the pill any easier to swallow now that the news is “official.” Am I sad because I won’t be doing what I love anymore? Yes, for many selfish reasons. But I am really sad because we as a school district have made a huge investment in providing the tools, infrastructure AND SUPPORT to our teachers so they can effectively grow as professionals and successfully meet the needs of their students in our changing world and stay true to our vision. We have made it our goal as a district to be a leader among leaders and truly create life-long learners. Our teachers across the district, K-12, ALL have an amazing set of tech tools in their classrooms (projectors, doc cameras, student-response systems, audio systems, tablet pc’s, digital slates, etc.). But we haven’t just dumped the tools on them and left them to figure it out. Everyone knows that doesn’t lead to success. We wisely beefed up our technology coaching staff and have, for the past 2 years, provided intensive support to help ensure that our teachers could effectively use the tools to change what they do and provide their students with the experiences, skills and opportunities they need and demand to find success in this “flattening world,” as Friedman says. Well, our plan has been overwhelmingly successful (at least in my opinion)! We have lots of teachers who are flying high and the ball is definitely rolling, but there is still so much work to be done.

However, in this struggling economy budgets are cut and tough calls have to be made, like the one that prompted this whole post. I, along with 3 other tech coaches, have been reassigned, making our district’s tech coaching staff go from 10 to 6 serving 17 schools. But please don’t misunderstand me…I realize some districts have no tech coaches and that we are extremely lucky to be able to retain 6 of the 10 positions. And as I said above, I am grateful to have a job during these uncertain times and work in system that isn’t letting these tough times change the vision. But even with 10 coaches, providing adequate support for all the teachers was always a challenge, so with 6 it’s going to be even tougher and I am afraid we will suffer in certain areas where we were starting to see growth. Hopefully this is only temporary but there will be negative consequences. One of my administrators used this analogy and I like it.

“We have been driving a race car wide-open for the past 2 years, but now with these changes, we need to simply see if we can keep gas in the car a keep it on the road.”

After being in that car for some time and maybe even pressing the gas to the floor a time or two, I know that in order for growth to occur…for this change to happen within our schools, which I believe we all see as an imperative step towards the future success of our nation, support has to be there! There are numerous blog posts, journal articles, books as well as countless students and teachers to back this up this claim. So that’s why I am sad. For 2 years I got to be a supporting part of this change, of something much bigger than me and one classroom. I witnessed professionals developing, I watched students engage that had never engaged before, I saw minds opened to new ideas…I saw change with my very own eyes. And to be a small part of that, experiencing it daily and knowing that it can and does happen is what has driven me…it’s my passion and it’s what I have grown to love! I would be lying if I didn’t say that it’s going to be very tough to change gears as I begin to shift my focus back to the classroom. But as I do begin to look towards next year as classroom teacher again, I must look back and recognize that I got 2 years of the best professional development possible and enter into this new phase with an amazing network of professionals surrounding me that won’t allow me do anything but succeed! That’s the power of the PLN and I love it! Now the challenge becomes translating it all into creating a 7th social studies classroom where kids will come to be challenged, feel valued and learn how to contribute to something much larger than themselves! One door closes and another is opened…but regardless, I am a teacher and opening lids is my job! And do you really think the teachers will stop emailing me when they want to try something new or need to know how to set up a VoiceThread account? Yeah right…