A difficult choice.
Leaving the classroom was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. Making the decision was one of the hardest I’ve ever made. Not only did I have to say goodbye to my colleagues, my administrators, and the mentors who had guided me throughout my career, but I had to leave my students. I say “MY” students purposefully. Regardless of if I taught them 5 years ago, 3 years ago, or I was going to teach them next year (as most teachers know) they are and will always be “MY” students. I wasn’t leaving because it was “too hard” or because I was burnt out, though. I was leaving to make a greater impact on education and to reach more students than I ever thought possible.
How it happened.
I had developed, tested, and created a system in my classroom now called The Grid Method. In my high needs, urban school with 100% free and reduced lunch, and economically disadvantaged students, it was working. Students were more engaged, achievement was increasing, management was improving, and I quickly realized that I had something here that could help more teachers and more students. Colleagues had been asking how to implement the system I’d designed and so had others I shared it with. I quickly started looking for ways to spread the word and share the techniques and systems I was using to reach more students.
Spreading the word.
I called a colleague of mine (Jeff Gargas), who had experience with marketing and a better mind for doing this sort of thing and asked him about writing an ebook (<<< we did that…but so much more). After sharing my story with him, I was quickly told that the idea and concept I had was more than an ebook. He saw that this was a way to not only help more students, but also help teachers, so together we created this site.
Since that time, the site, the resources, the online courses, the blogs, and the live training, workshops, and implementation of the system, have reached hundreds of teachers and thousands of students in schools and districts all over. This eventually grew to a point where I (we) could help more students by pursuing and committing to what we knew could positively impact more students than I was reaching in my classroom alone.
As the site and the system gained more traction in classrooms, schools, and districts, the time and energy required increased…a lot. As more schools and districts requested training, workshops, and full district-wide implementation of what started as a simple way to teach better, I was left with the decision before the school year started, to pursue what we had created or go back to the classroom and tell some of the schools I was working with I wouldn’t be able to help them reach more students.
I decided to bet on this concept, and on us, and focus on reaching more students than ever by delivering teacher development and training to hundreds of teachers across the region. This has allowed us to increase our impact through entrepreneurial avenues in order to maximize the change we could have on the educational landscape. The concept of increasing your impact as a teacher through entrepreneurship is often called Teacherpreneurship. Jeff wrote a pretty cool post explaining why teachers make awesome entrepreneurs (<<<worth reading!)
Let me leave you with this.
I know when you started reading this you probably expected that I was about to rant and rave about how burnt out the system of education made me, or how I couldn’t handle the stresses or schedule of day to day teaching. You may have even thought I would have told you how the work and life balance of a teacher was just too much (it’s not…especially if you read that blog I linked to).
I’m not saying that these things don’t happen, but I can’t stress enough that the reason I left the classroom was to continue on this crazy journey we started. And that decision has allowed us to reach thousands of students that have previously been deemed “unreachable.” We found something that allows us to increase our impact, and we’re going for it, because we cannot succeed without helping you reach more students. And that, to me, is an idea worth going after.
Do you have an idea that could help you reach more students? I’d love to hear about it! Also, incase you’re wondering…no, I don’t regret it. I have an opportunity to have a greater impact and increase the achievement of more students than ever. I also can’t even begin to tell you how much working with teachers like you, and helping them find their passion again, motivates me to keep going.
Here’s the best part about this concept of increasing your impact through entrepreneurship: You don’t have to leave the classroom. Yes, my journey got to a point where that decision needed to be made, but maybe you have an idea, a concept, and a passion for something that can increase your impact without leaving the classroom. And I would love to hear about it!