I am just listening to John Hunter describe his interview for his first teaching job where the curriculum person responded to his surprised “What do I do?” when told he had the job of teaching gifted children with a question that set the template for the rest of his career: What do you want to do?
That question gets to one’s vision. I can think of teachers for who that question would generate a vision, a vision of what an educated person is, a vision of what children need to thrive, or a vision of integrating the school with the family and community. I can think of other teachers for whom that question would only generate another question: What am I supposed to do? What does the person paying me want me to do? The latter sort of response would make me want to advise that person to go into an area of Right Livelihood (a Buddhist principle) where they do have a vision. Some jobs do not require a vision but teaching is not one of them.
People with a vision are anathema to administrators. The administrator subordinates his vision to what his superiors require of him and his job is to get teachers to override their own visions and conform to the visions of his superiors. That’s tough. It’s doubly tough b/c no administrator and no superior will admit to squelching teachers’ vision nor to not having one of their own nor to requiring anyone to override their own personal vision, yet that is what they do.
As I’ve written elsewhere on this blog, my vision came from what I saw to be the goal of the job I had: as a welfare worker, it was to make sure people had enough to survive; as a therapist, it was to keep people out of the hospital or increase their functioning; as a Child Protective Service worker, it was to unite families under safe circumstances; as a teacher of fl it was to raise the proficiency level of my students in that language as well as meet general education requirements i.e. form well-educated persons. In all of those cases. it meant leaping over obstacles and the leaping caused consternation among my superiors though not my colleagues. One friend who was a very high level admin in social services described me as an administrative nightmare.
A good counselor or supervisor should want to and be able to help an employee find their vision. If a teacher has little vision for the classroom, perhaps they can be counseled into another area of education (supervisor? counselor? administrator? hmmmmm) or out of education but in a kind, gentle and helpful way. It’s easy to get trapped in teaching due to salary structure, etc. But given the way so many teachers use poor districts to gain experience so they can leapfrog to upscale districts, why not help teachers find where their vision takes them rather than where the salary scale and easier-to-teach kids take them. If schools would pay a living wage, lots of teachers would enjoy the challenge of working with poor kids. Some teachers despise the upscale school b/c of so many spoiled brats, as they describe some of their students.