The new gig is already a lot different than the old. I’ve got an office, not a classroom. (More to come on feng shuing that, once I figure out how. So far all I’ve done is throw out an old spider plant.) I even broke down and got the crackberry. That acquisition was precipitated by an unfortunate incident involving the laundry, and and it didn’t hurt that my son loves brickbreaker. I may eventually get used to the buzzing in my pocket, but I promise I’ll never pull it out and thumb through emails while we’re talking.
But some things don’t change. A marble comp book is my constant companion. It’s full of notes at this point and keeps nagging at me to do some free-writing, but it’s grateful that I still date and label every entry (any former student who happens to be reading this just had an involuntary tic). Before too many pages accrue, and to give you a feel for my first week on the job, here’s an annotated table of contents (or “TOC” as I refer to it when checking student scribbling) for my first official notebook as Dean of Students.
6/25 Suzanne: Suzanne is the Director of Curriculum and does “study skills” with all grade levels. In our first meeting, she gives me a download on the scope and sequence and the 8th grade curriculum in particular, sketches out the rhythm of the year, and patiently answers my questions like, “How many classes are there a day and how long are they?” We kick around ideas about how to use the school TV studio, such as having 8th graders do segments on different cultures before International Night in the fall.
7/1 intro to CSOV: Click on the hammer to submit a maintenance request, code purple means shelter in place in the event of a chemical attack, make elections for mutual fund by such and such a date… this was a nitty gritty session with Tina from HR to get oriented.
Seth: There will be a lot of pages of notes with my new boss’s name on them. Seth is bursting with ideas; as Head of school, vision is his job. Implementing the ones whose time have come will be mine. Eventually we have to be able to finish each other’s sentences, Seth says, so here we talk about themes for the year: a personal touch, building trust, the parent-teacher partnership. We also go over the new leadership structure and a future plan to connect with a school in China.
L Team: Over Subway sandwiches, the Leadership team has its first get together. We talk in broad strokes about the need to celebrate the school’s achievements at the same time we move forward towards an upcoming 70th anniversary, zooming in on details about assemblies, accreditation, mission, financials… “Never worry alone” is the closing mantra.
7/9 Molly: the tech lady! She helps me with my mojo, like getting my printer to work, showing me how to retrieve email from home and where to save on the network. We talk tech turkey about how teachers use their smartboards and what can we do with the new Illuminate system.
7/10 Helen, Jennifer: Jennifer will be my girl Friday. The administrative assistant to the head, Helen, walks us through sharing calendars on Outlook and some of the finer points of a good working relationship: “All Seth had to learn to do was to relinquish control completely,” she explains with a friendly smile.
Pre-meeting: That’s right. A meeting to get ready for a meeting. In this case, several of us are going to an evening session with a group that includes parents and board members. The school is in the process of strategic planning, so Seth wants to make sure we’re singing from the same sheet music. One teacher I haven’t met yet conferences in. She’s at the meeting without even being at the meeting.
T & P Meeting: the Teaching and Program committee sits in the library and talks about what teachers need to implement the school's accelerated curriculum, and what sort of enrichment appeals to parents. Marketing words like “needs assessment” and “value proposition” bump up against teacher jargon like “differentiation” and “professional learning communities.”
7/11 Richmond: Seth and I take a road trip. Our agenda is to see a model summer program at Collegiate, visit a former student of mine at governor’s school who nominated me as a favorite teacher, and drop in on Seth’s previous protégé at his current gig as head of a small school in Richmond. In the car we bat around a plan for next year to carve time out of the schedule during which students can be enriched and teachers PLC’ed, and Seth explains to me for the second time how his brother and sister are actually his aunt and uncle.