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Opinion
Education Opinion

Sharing My Expert Voice With Humility

By Starr Sackstein — August 31, 2017 3 min read

Compliments are really hard for me to take. Not really sure why, but I actually get physically uncomfortable sometimes when I receive them.

Not even deep down, however, I’m proud. I know what I have accomplished and it took a lot.

Hard work and perseverance are always on duty with me and given the amount of effort and passion I’ve expended over the last few years honing my craft and shifting my mindset, I appreciate that others notice.

Knowing my process, however, and considering the new adventures and challenges that sit before me (on the eve of my first day of school), I’ve been eliciting advice and thoughts from people I respect and admire in order to really understand and develop into the role I am taking on.

Although I know a lot about a lot of stuff, I surely don’t know everything about everything I need to know to be as awesome at my new job as I was at my old one.

I do have a few ideas in place, however, that I’m certain of:


  • All people are learners first. Adults or children, we must all be seen as learners, modeling that life-long learning expectation. So it’s with humility and pride that I ask a million questions, hear the varied answers and use my own experience and expertise to make decisions.
  • I am new in a traditional culture and the most important thing for me to do right now is listen. As I get to know my role and my staff, it’s my job to understand what has been in place, make some mental notes, and be cautious about any kinds of changes I’ll likely be eager to share and collaborate on.
  • I’m a transparent and public entity and therefore, my staff probably knows more about me if they took the time to look than I know about them. Like I said earlier, though I’m proud of what I know, I don’t plan to lead with it. It’s there and it will come in handy eventually, but right now, it’s sitting on the book shelf (literally and figuratively).
  • Shifting my mindset away from being a classroom teacher, often in my silo into being a collaborative leader is going to take an every day meditation. Although being in a leadership role (not just in action, but also in title), is different and my relationships with people will reflect that. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
  • Although I won’t have students of my own, all of our students are mine to share. I love children and working with them, that’s one of the reasons I became a teacher, so I plan to be around them a lot.
  • I will NEVER forget what it feels like to be a classroom teacher. That being said, I would never ask my staff to do something that I wouldn’t do myself. Every choice is made to benefit kids and ultimately, as kids change, so must our craft.
  • Mistakes... there will be many, but I’m not afraid of that because they are opportunities for amazing growth. I will stay transparent about those missteps and worries and model to my staff that it is the only way to grow. I’m committed to learning from my mistakes to be a better leader.
  • We are in this together. As I learn from what is already going on and the mission of the district I’m working in. Together, my staff and I will create a space that truly integrates learning in a meaningful and real way. Ideas and growth don’t happen in isolation and therefore, we must be a cohesive team to build that growth together.
  • Reflection will be constant. Between my personal learning and the on-the-job expertise I will learn, I can confidently intermingle what I know as an educator and best practice with my role as a director.
  • Not everything can get done all of the time, but everything that needs to get done will and getting it done right is more important than just getting it done.
  • My passion and interest in learning will be visible. I need to not intimidate with my excitement and enthusiasm, but allow it to be infectious and inspiring so that I can develop the necessary relationships to help grow the programs I’m involved with.
  • Change is good and it’s happening all of the time. It’s the one constant I have.

So as I launch myself into this new year, it’s with quiet confidence, humility and pride. My open-heart and mind is what I’ll lead with and I’m certain this year will be a tremendous of of growth. I can’t wait to share it.

What are you certain about as you embark on your new school year? Please share.

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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