I’m on the 2 train headed from the Bronx to Manhattan after my first official day at my new school. What a day it was! I stepped out of our colorful building feeling inspired, humbled, and with a lot on my mind. Today was the New Faculty Institute for those of us joining the staff this year and I took away quite a bit from the day but what sticks most with me is the power of leadership.
My school is in its 11th year with just over 600 students grades six through twelve. Our principal is from the neighborhood and founded the school with 77 sixth graders and six teachers in 2004. First off, the fact that he is still there is powerful. It may sound sad to say but in education having a principal stick around that long in a high-need school makes a statement. I strongly felt that today.
Second, our principal, assistant principals, and fellow teachers kicked off the institute in a welcoming and inspiring way. Sharing the history of our school and sending a clear message that they valued the choice we made to join their school team set the tone for a collaborative and safe space. Teachers played a role throughout the day and it was clear that while there are set protocols and expectations for certain things, if we have a different idea or way of thinking that is also encouraged and welcomed.
Welcome to your new professional home and family.
Your success is our success.
We’re all about the three Rs: Rigor, Relationships, and Respect.
We tell our students that learning for learning’s sake is not good enough. You have to give back to the community.
I need you, when appropriate, to share your successes and your achievements.
Take the risk. You will reap the rewards.
These were some of the messages that were shared and stuck most with me throughout the day. The last one was in reference to asking for help when we need it and being an authentic and genuine part of the learning community that is our school - an incredibly powerful message to teachers, especially in the current educational climate. After being out of the classroom for three years, and re-entering as the teacher of a tested grade and subject in this era of Common Core implementation and new evaluations I am definitely taking a risk. It’s one that I know I need to take, one that I want to take. And after today, it seems that I’ll be supported by my administration and my colleagues in taking that risk. I’m looking forward to the many rewards headed our way.