Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Path We Have Chosen

"So how's the new job treating ya?"

Inevitably and understandably, some people have been asking me that question in the last few months. I am fortunate to be working at West Leyden, a school that his given me everything an educator could ask for. I've taught some awesome kids and worked alongside some amazing colleagues and mentors. I've been gifted all the professional development I can handle and recently, the job of Assistant Principal too. Truthfully, I hope I can give half as much to my job as my job has given me.

"But really, are you getting the hang of it?"

I've tried to embrace the vulnerability that comes with honesty in life, because honestly, I am not very good at what I do yet. I've arrived at school for the past 97 days not really leading anything, but trying to learn from decades of leadership experience around me.  I am new. I am inexperienced. And for the most part, I don't know what I am doing. I walk away from conversations second guessing what I said. I've put so many filters through my emails and letters that I've departed from who I want to be as a school leader. I hear the cynics and skeptics. I try really hard to make it through the day, and then get up the next day and do it again.

Hopefully my transparency can connect me to others who have felt the same way at some point in time, not just with their careers but with their lives. I remember bringing my son home from the hospital for the first time with a restless feeling. So what do we do with him now? How can I stop him from crying, and where did we put that pack of diapers again? Luckily for me, I had the help of my wife and together we are erasing the early self-doubts of parenthood one day at a time. I think.

Like becoming a new parent, learning a new job can be really tough, especially as a first year teacher, coach, or administrator. Having worked here for a few years, I'm lucky to have existing relationships with colleagues around me. There is nothing that we cannot do together. Our secretaries, maintenance staff, teachers, and administrators can attest to that- as I've experienced formal and informal mentoring in these first three months. I am grateful for those moments and can only hope that I will add something to their skill set too. We have to build each other up.

"Do you miss teaching?"

Of course. The best part of our jobs is the daily interaction with our kids, just ask anyone who works at a school in the summer. I miss the kids but still try to manufacture interactions with students whenever I can. I'm convinced that teaching five classes for 35 years is the toughest job in education, but I also believe that being a teacher is the most rewarding job in the world. Our kids fill our souls in ways that we cannot quantify -and that, of course, is something I miss.

"Well, you will get the hang of it eventually..."

I know. I just hope I can look back at the totality of these days and find humor in it all. Until then, I appreciate the patience and collegiality of all my peers as I make the journey.

"This is the path we have chosen. We are responsible for modeling what we expect from others, especially when we don't get it right. Let us not be fools when the criticism comes, but take time to reflect and make the necessary changes in order to grow."
-Jimmy Casas.