Career Questions: Changing Assignments
Q: I’ve been teaching the same grade for the last 8 years and I’m beginning to feel bored and stale. I still like teaching, but I need a new challenge. I would like to change grade levels. I asked my principal to consider me for an opening at another level last year, but he said he liked the work I was doing and didn’t want to move me. Frankly, the thought of teaching at the same level for the next twenty years isn’t appealing. How can I negotiate a change with my administrator?
A: One of the problems of teaching as a career is that it is easy to plateau after several years of working at the same grade level or in the same subject matter. True, the kids change and every year brings new curriculum ideas, but sometimes we need a new challenge to keep our batteries charged.
While it’s gratifying that the principal appreciates your expertise in your current assignment, you might gently point out to him that you shouldn’t be penalized for doing a good job. After all, your record suggests that you’d be just as competent at another grade level.
Check to see who might be retiring at the end of next year. It’s unlikely that your principal will move someone out of a position just because you’d like to have it, but an opening through attrition should be accessible to you. (Of course, it’s also possible that someone besides you is harboring the desire to change grade levels as well.) Next, talk to your principal at the beginning of the year in September about a change of assignment for the following year, and remind him or her every so often of your desire to move. Finally, think about what other things you can do to stay fresh while you wait for that move. There may be workshops you could attend (or conduct), leadership positions you might fill, or mentoring jobs that would allow you to share your expertise. Do your job and do it well, but keep your desire to change on your principal’s front burner.