Friday, July 8, 2016

Next Chapter

Ten years ago I started teaching middle school science.  This school year will be different.  On July 22nd I will begin a new position as the Assistant Principal of Ritenour Middle School.  Yesterday I put the physical stuff that I will take with me from my classroom in one box.  I'm preparing to leave the classroom where I have spent 20,000+ hours guiding, motivating, and preparing kids to be problem solvers, and encouraging them to be the best version of themselves. For those of you that do not know where Ritenour is, it is North St. Louis County, neighbor to Ferguson.  Yes, that Ferguson. Which also means my school demographic is changing a lot too.  I am going to be part of one of the most diverse districts in the state. Yes, this is on purpose, and I love it!

Reactions have been: Why would you do this?  Wow.  Really?! Congratulations! No... What will we do?! Sorry to lose you.  Sad kids learning they will not have me as their teacher.  Happy for you... and a host of other body language that cannot be expressed in words.  Some of these reactions come from my move from teaching to administration, some come from leaving Webster, others come from a perception of where I am going.

Leaving the classroom the guilt is real for me.  When we say yes to one thing we say no to another.  It's hard for me to say no to the time in the classroom as a teacher because I have and I do enjoy it.  I can try explaining that I will be in classrooms and I will be interacting with kids.  The reality of that is it will look very different.

This move is very much on purpose.  This is not an error or mistake.  I do at some point want to be a principal and I get to choose where and how I learn to take on that role.  I've been in a more rural district which had unique problems. I've been in an affluent district which had unique problems (yes, privilege can be a problem). I will now be in a district where many students come to school with a higher level of needs.  What I've found interesting so far is that all three districts I have been a part of have similar problems but in a school district where student scores are higher no one asks questions and the problems hide underneath the high academic achievement of the students.  No surprise, I like being part of schools that are hungry for change.  The "Why" supporting the action is built into these schools.

I wish there was another term for assistant principal.  We all bring images of what an assistant principal is and is not.  We have experiences as students, teachers, and even from pop culture that feed our perception of what an assistant principal is.  I will be carving out my own version of assistant principal with the roles and responsibilities that I have been given.

What will I be doing?  Of course school discipline is the first thing people think of, so yes I will be teaching more social behavior than I ever have before to people that have more hormones than they know what to do with.  I get to shape the behavior that is valued in my school.  I'll also be evaluating teachers, which to me means empowering and equipping teachers to reach the next level of success with their students.  I have been tasked with guiding building professional development.  My interpretation of that is I will have an opportunity to impact the greatest factor in student success, teachers.  I still love supporting people's interests and passions.  I still love helping people uncover their strengths and find the best version of themselves.  How I do that will look different this year.  I am SUPER excited to begin this next chapter in my career.  Let's get to it.