US vs. THEM

Startled, I looked at our school’s union representative.  I didn’t think I heard her correctly. “Dave, would you please leave the meeting?” she repeated.

“What?” I asked, incredulously.

“You’re with the administration now, and this meeting is only for teachers,” she explained.

Startled, I looked at our school’s union representative.  I didn’t think I heard her correctly.

“Dave, would you please leave the meeting?” she repeated.

“What?” I asked, incredulously.

“You’re with the administration now, and this meeting is only for teachers,” she had explained.

It was my first year in a hybrid teacher-leader role.  I was teaching children during the fall semester.  Come Spring, I had moved to an office from which I was coordinating our school’s Small Learning Community grant.

I was embarrassed and surprised.  I was also conflict-avoidant, so I left the meeting, dazed.

In the car, my embarrassment and surprise gave way to hurt and anger.  I was a stalwart of our teachers’ union.  I had been the grievance chair and the president of my local.

“Was? I am a stalwart of our union,” I thought, indignantly.

Ironically, I had a meeting scheduled for the very next day with the then-vice president of my state-wide teachers’ union to discuss the launch of several teacher-led educational policy think tanks.  Our union was going to stop being reactive to the educational reform ideas of our political opponents and start promoting teacher-driven school change.  I was one of the key players in that movement.

At our state union headquarters, I was still “one of us.”  However, at my own school, I had somehow transformed into one of “them.”

Us and Them

Where do teacher-leaders, teacherpreneurs, and teachers on special assignment stand?  Are we still teachers?  Are we administrators and management?  Are we consultants?

In my case, I was part-time teacher and part-time administrator.  I still taught kids, but only for one-half of the school year.  In the remaining time, I managed our grant., planning and leading our teacher professional development, managing the budget, and writing hundreds of pages of reports.  I never evaluated my fellow teacher, which, then, I had thought was the magical line that divided administration from teachers.

I still felt like I was fully a teacher.  However, my union reps felt very differently.

What do you think about teacher-leaders, hybrid teachers, and teacherpreneurs?  Are they still teachers?  Are they administrators now?  Are they something in-between or something wholly new?

How can we get past the US vs. THEM dynamic?