I have always prided myself on being a good teacher, but just like any teacher, I spent my first few years finding my way. I started my career up in Virginia so that I could get married to my beautiful wife. With that start, I did not have the protection of an administrator who knew me previously and was willing to mentor me. I had administrative supervisors who tended to bully teachers into conforming, and when I came up with new ideas, it trended towards a skeptical eye. It was a tough time that I thankfully got through with some of the best coaching years of my life. It made me think that if I were ever an administrator, I would always treat new teachers with respect and love. If a teacher does not want to get better that's one thing, but if they are putting everything they can into it, it makes sense to help them build into something more. Hopefully, if you are an administrator reading this, that's your way of thinking. If not, hopefully, you can move that way.
My next stop in my career was at Wheeler High School in Cobb County., Georgia Thankfully, at Wheeler I had some protection from administrators knowing my family or me, so it gave me some room to grow and try new ideas. The issue became though is up until my last year there, I lacked that mentorship relationship. I was not a problem, so my supervising conferences tended to be check the boxes conferences mostly. There was very little collaboration on what could take my teaching practices to the next level.
Thankfully, in my last year that changed when I changed supervisors to a man named Bob Downs. That year, it became apparent to me that I had an administrator who understood the technology side of teaching and the power behind student creation. With the knowledge that he got it, I proposed getting several MacBook computers to take creation to another level. He found them, and then he gave me room to use them. For that, I will be forever grateful.
My time at Wheeler taught me to make supervising teachers a collaboration. All good teachers out there are constantly looking for new ideas to improve their practice. Most become so busy that they appreciate just the old pat on the back evaluation, and they don't even realize they are missing the collaborative feedback. It does not have to be an adversarial relationship, and I became that teacher who realized I need the collaboration in my next stop.
My final stop before joining the Kennesaw State iTeach team was at North Atlanta High School, and I had the best supervisor I ever had in Laura Brazil. One of the reasons I left Wheeler for North Atlanta was the technology that would be available to me. The only thing I did not know was what the administration would thing of practices that were starting to move away from the high school norm.
Thankfully, Ms. Brazil was an administrator who just plain got it. I remember many of conference and talk with her that started with "I loved what you did here, but have you ever thought..." To me, it meant a collaboration. She was open to my ideas but also had ideas that really helped me because she got what I was trying to do. I can't ever thank her enough because she gave me that room to grow and experiment.
It did not stop there. Ms. Brazil was the one who encouraged me to get out in the ed tech community. She was the one who encouraged me to join the districts teacher tech team, get out there and speak at GAETC, and get out there and share what I was doing. I can honestly say, that my career would not be where it is today without her. She was that administrator who changed things for me.
I think when you look at administration many look it as a running business. Some folks even see it as having to be a ruthless business.
That's just not true. Administration should be just as a teacher in a classroom. It is a collaborative relationship where you can both learn from each other, and your job as an administrator is to help those teachers grow. My hope is that in the new school year we can have administrators that don't bully and that don't just check the boxes. It should be always be all about collaboration.