New Year, New Job, New School, New Challenge

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Ron Bennetts

It has been more than two months since my last post, no excuses, that is way too long. I spent my summer relaxing… way too much. It was a challenging year balancing my first year as an administrator with my first year as a college basketball assistant coach. I clearly needed a break, but I took it too far and now I am finally getting back to that reflective and, hopefully, improving head space I need to be in.
So this year, as a result of becoming the head coach of the college basketball team I was working with, I have returned to the classroom. I get asked a lot if I liked or didn’t like my year in administration. I think that when someone leaves administration after a year everyone assumes it was because you couldn’t hack it or you didn’t like it. For me this wasn’t the case. I left a great school, with an amazing staff and an opportunity to work with a new principal I respect a great deal for one reason – the opportunity to chase a dream in the form of a basketball coaching position. In returning to the classroom an opportunity popped up to join Greystone Centennial Middle School, a 5-9 school in our division which was recently named one of the most innovative schools in Canada. I jumped at the opportunity and accepted the position in May, and then proceeded to spend my summer golfing, relaxing and traveling.

Well last Friday it came time to go back to work, and to join the staff at my new school. In our first day back, we reviewed our school’s purpose and goals and we collaborated on how we can keep the movement toward exemplary teaching and learning going. It was more than a little intimidating and overwhelming. It didn’t take long to see I was joining a staff of bright minds, dynamic thinkers and enthusiastic educators. No one was a naysayer, no one doubted the lofty goals could be achieved, no one pointed towards a shortage of time as a way out. We talked about Inquiry, Personalized Learning, Authenticity, Real World Context… my head was spinning. Young or not so young, male or female, administrator or first year teacher, everyone was on board and ready to do whatever it takes to provide the best for their students. I went home that night and barely made it to 10pm before I crashed HARD.

I spent most of the weekend with a great deal of doubt and worry that I had made the wrong decision. I thought about how I could have taken a simpler job, worked in a school where I didn’t have to be on the cutting edge, implementing the most amazing strategies and tools out there. I mean I am following my dream of coaching a college basketball team, what am I doing teaching in this school as well!!??

On my second day, I was able to see why (I think) this school works so well, and why they are able to do such amazing things. I am part of a learning community, LC8, 1 of 4 teachers working with the Gr. 8 students of our school. Now I have been on grade teams before and I have been part of a department, but today I got to really work collaboratively with a group that has been doing this for a while. Two of the teachers have been on a team together for quite some time, the other member is a bright young first year teacher who worked in the school last year as an EA. Over the course of the day we set out plans for our year; planning to address the Citizenship and Social Responsibility component of our curriculum, planning for assisting our students who fall behind, planning for ways to assess, planning for ways to communicate with families. It was so energizing and empowering to see what our group is capable of after only two days together.

It was then I remembered why I took this job, and many of the other jobs I have had in the past. I took this job to grow and become a better educator. I have been successful in the past as a classroom teacher and I could have simply returned to the classroom in another building and done what I have always done. I could have provided interesting lessons and my students would have done well, but I wouldn’t have improved. Taking this job was about improving me, and in turn improving the quality of education I provide for my students.

It will take time to get on board with all the amazing things going on in my school, and I am okay with that. I took this job to learn and that means I may not be comfortable for a while. I will make mistakes, I will have more than a few crappy lessons, and I will probably feel pretty bad about myself once in a while. But I will grow. I will be challenged and I will look back on this year and be thankful I had the opportunity to be part of this staff and this school. Hopefully they will be glad that I am there as well.

2 thoughts on “New Year, New Job, New School, New Challenge

  1. Wow! Jesse, nice reflection. I hope you and your colleagues give me the opportunity to work with you sometime this year. Check out what I have to offer at I am still subbing while I begin some educational consulting, so hopefully you can give me a plug at Greystone… many of the staff already know me there and it is the school I hope to spend 98% of my time:) either as a sub or as a visionary.

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