From Faculty to Staff
As most readers know, I left my position as a high school English teacher in Kentucky and became a library tech at an elementary school in Arizona. That, of course, brought a number of changes, but none bigger than going from a certified employee to a classified employee. My nametag now says “staff” and not “faculty”. My paycheck is significantly smaller than what I was once accustomed to.
It’s been frustrating at times, but humbling. And necessary.
When I was a classroom teacher, I certainly appreciated the various employees in my building. But I was elbow deep in lesson planning and grading papers, so I sometimes didn’t notice the things the staff did for me, my students, and our school.
Teachers are important—invaluable, even. But aides and cafeteria staff and secretaries and monitors do so much, and they often go unnoticed.
In college, I took classes on classroom management. I learned about proximity, staying calm, and developing a relationship with my students. Even with all of this knowledge, I still sometimes struggled with certain behaviors. But I have seen aides seamlessly soothe a child. I have seen students who trust their classroom helpers more than anyone else in the building. And when I think about the fact that many of them learned this from firsthand experience and not college, I am in awe of their talent.
Staff members might not deliver instruction, but they dry tears, solve conflict, remember countless names and food allergies and other tidbits of information. They open juice boxes and check in library books and provide a change of clothes. They clean slippery spills, give feedback, and correct misbehavior.
Learning is so very important, but schools exist, first and foremost, to care for children. Dedicated staff members are proof of that. And I’m proud to serve my school in such a pivotal role.