Tuesday, April 12, 2005

My brush with the career ladder...

Yesterday morning, I had no intention of starting a graduate program in administration anytime soon. Today, I went with a colleague to an informational meeting about the Bank Street Principal's Institute. Ms. Dean is in this program this year and encouraged both of us to attend the pre-orientation and think about it. "But I don't want to be a principal or AP!" I protested. Then my colleague pointed out that it would give me the thirty credits I need to get my next pay raise, and even though I don't want to be an administrator now, if I have the degree and a really great job opens up, I'll be qualified. Well, when you put it that way...

So off we went to find out more. It turns out that our Region has an arrangement with Bank Street whereby we'd only pay half the cost of each credit - and that's on top of the 50% discount that Bank Street already gives public school teachers. So instead of $32,000, the 18 month program would cost only about $8000. Expensive, yes, but still a good deal. In exchange, you have to commit to work in the Region for at least three years.

What made the program appealing to me is that the director was smart, funny, and completely willing to scare away anyone not fully committed. She pointed out the intense workload - it's 38 credits in just 18 months, and most of those during the school year! The program involves an internship in your current school placement, plus foundation courses in all aspects of administration, plus computer courses, and more. It sounds really rigorous, and it also sounds like you get out of it what you put into it.

When we had a chance to ask questions, someone asked what happens if you don't fulfill your commitment to the Region. She said that you would be expected to pay back the cost of your degree, but then she made a statement that I rarely hear, but that I wish I heard more often:

The meaning of your commitment is not about the penalty, it is about your ethics, your morals, what you can live with.

The program seems like a good program - and competitive - but I'm not going to do it. In the first place, I still don't want to be an administrator, not really. The positions this prepares you for are AP, principal, math or literacy coach, or various regional office positions. None of these really appeal to me. I don't want to find myself finished with the program, committed to working in the Region, and then having to respond to job offers for positions that I don't really want. The only administrative job I can see myself doing right at the moment is some sort of Science Teacher Staff Developer. As far as I know, we only have one position like that in the Region, and it has already been filled, and I don't think you need an administrative degree to fill that position anyway, since the woman currently in that job was at today's info session!

Anyway, Bank Street also has a one-year program for people with fewer years of experience. It isn't enough to get certified as an administrator, but it might provide the specific skills I feel that I need to do a better job supporting the new teachers in my school, and it would provide nearly all the credits I need for my 30-and-above pay differential, and it will still be a rigorous program. It begins in January, so I won't have to decide for sure until next fall.


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