Being a teacher. Being a leader. Why can't we have both? | Chalkboard Project

Being a teacher. Being a leader. Why can't we have both?

Monday, March 23, 2015 Marsha Moyer

I’ve often said, whenever I get finished doing what I’m doing as far as my professional development work, I’m going to go back into the classroom, and I’m going to teach. And after I retired, I renewed my teaching license because I believe there’s nothing greater than teaching.

But years ago, being young in my teaching career, having a family, just getting started, and looking at pay—if I wanted to do better, and afford myself a better life, I had to take my skills and talents, leave the classroom, and go into administration. And that is what I did, and what many of my teaching colleagues did because it was the only education career pathway that was open to us.

At the time we believed if you were a great teacher, and you wanted to do more and create an impact, the only way to do that was to leave the classroom, and go into administration.

What I would like people to understand is that many teachers were often filling leadership roles working outside of the classroom, just as we have today. A school cannot be successful if its teachers merely show up, go into their classrooms, teach, and leave. There are many components of extra duties and contributing factors that a teacher contributes to make a school successful. We just didn’t call it district leadership, or shared leadership, and they weren’t paid for it.

As we move from the traditional model, our values are starting to shift and we’ve got to look at doing things differently. CLASS’s creation of new career pathways and leadership opportunities that are associated with additional compensation has always resonated with me—it made so much sense. Because we have great people who really want to be touching the lives of children and families everyday, but still want to make sure that their children can go to college, and have the funds to do it.

When I retired from the Salem-Keizer School District, I told myself that as long as I have good energy, I would teach again. I love being able to mold minds, and remove barriers, because my career has taught me that a teacher not only impacts a child in the moment, but impacts generations. A teacher can possibly take a child out of generational poverty just by opening a doorway. Oregon’s teaching workforce should be empowered to embrace both new leadership roles and the classroom experience, with the full support and compensation it deserves.


Marsha Moyer is currently a trainer and project coach for Chalkboard Project, after a 24-year-plus career as a teacher, and administrator in various states, and has spent the majority of her career at the Salem-Keizer School District before her retirement.

  • Teacher Leadership
  • Quality Educators
  • Professional Development

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