The Long Road to Becoming an Agent of Change. (Last Word)

By Kirtman, Lisa | Black Issues in Higher Education, March 28, 2002 | Go to article overview

The Long Road to Becoming an Agent of Change. (Last Word)


Kirtman, Lisa, Black Issues in Higher Education


As an African American woman, I have had to fight for everything I have achieved. I have had to think and reflect on every move I have made. As I completed my first year as an assistant professor of education, I found myself feeling tired and overwhelmed, so I took some time to reflect on where I had been and where I was going.

When I started teaching elementary school, I wanted to teach so I could make a difference. And for a few years, I felt I was changing my students' lives. But at some point, this was not enough. I wanted to affect more lives than just the 30 students I taught every year. I thought administration was the way to change many more lives, and I decided being a principal would be a great way to affect hundreds of children's lives each year. But as I completed my administrative credential, I found that the principals' hands are often tied by district and state policies and in reality being a principal was not for me. Finally, I decided the best way to affect many children is by affecting the teachers that teach them. In graduate school, I read about ideas of empowerment and change agents and realized that all along I had been searching for the ability to be an agent of change.

When I completed my Ph.D. and got a job I thought to myself, "Now, I will be an agent of change." Yet, once again, reality set in. The pressures to teach, the student issues, the faculty expectations and the institutional pressures to publish and perform were overwhelming. I found myself just trying to keep my head above water and being an agent of change was the last thing on my mind. After my first year, I was disappointed in myself and what I had accomplished. Yes, I was doing fine by institutional measures, but was I being true to myself? Was I being an agent of change or just another instructional lackey creating ordinary teachers? …

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