Leadership Symposium Early Bird Deadline Is Today | Join K-12 leaders nationwide for three days of empowering strategies, networking, and inspiration! Discounted pricing ends today, Feb. 23. Register now.
Teaching Opinion

A Mid-Year Reflection on a Major Career Move

By Starr Sackstein — February 28, 2017 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

After sharing an earlier post from this year on #ecet2 chat this Sunday, a participant asked me how things are going at the not-so-new job now; she asked if I had posted a mid-year update. To which I responded, “What a great idea for a post!” and thanked her for her concern and interest.

So here I am now taking some time to really think about the last six months and try to evaluate on some level where I am now.

First of all, most of the day to day stuff has become much easier. Although I still don’t know the whole staff (as it numbers more than 150 people), I know many and I feel that I’ve started to build relationships with many in a meaningful way. Since this was one of my major goals for when I got here, I can’t help but feel proud of that fact that folks trust me and come to me for help with many issues, large and small. Seeing as I was virtually an unknown entity when I arrived here, the fact that my colleagues see me as a resource is a major win.

Secondly, despite the many challenges of shifting to a new role and also teaching, I think that my students are also growing from my presence in the classroom. At first I was met with great reluctance to doing things as differently as I do them (and to some degree, I haven’t won them all over), but now students are at least keeping an open mind and understanding that their learning is as much about how I present the material as it is about their willingness to participate in the learning. We’ve been slowly developing a culture of reflection and growth mindset and I’m seeing the seeds of that growing. However, I always expect things to happen faster than they actually do.

In a community capacity, I’m involved in many things that I didn’t expect to be which has made for a tremendous growth opportunity. Participating in administrative level meetings and truly having a seat at the table to speak on behalf of my colleagues in terms of what they need and how better to serve them. This has been a great honor and I’m so lucky to have been afforded this opportunity. Sometimes I don’t have much to say or contribute, but it is invaluable to hear what is being said so I can better serve the folks I work with and the school. In times past, being quiet would have been hard for me, so taking it all in, truly listening has been a great learning experience.

Some things aren’t going as well as I had hoped they would. Despite the many positive aspects of my job, like working with an incredible co-teacher and department and even my field liaison from the UFT, there is one major challenge which has somewhat sullied the experience: my son. The school is very far from home and the commute has put a major emotional strain on my family. I’m not usually the kind of person who likes to run out of school at the bell, but I really kind of have to on the weeks my son is with me. I do make it a point to get to school early every day, but leaving him alone in both the morning and afternoon for hours is not good for a boy of his age. This weighs on me greatly and often distracts me from focusing fully on my job. It has been a tough personal year for sure.

Overall, I expect a lot from myself and truly struggle when things don’t happen as I think they should. “Should” is a really big challenge for me. There are moments where I feel my philosophical beliefs directly conflict with the way I’m expected to behave inside the system I am working in. One piece of advice I routinely get, that I understand on an intellectual level, is that change takes time and to not be too hard on myself. However, on an emotional more visceral level, it’s hard to rectify with myself. Being disciplined and devoted to getting things “right” is a real goal and I’ve been working on loosening my expectations of myself and others in a more realistic way.

As cliche as it sounds, I’m truly a work in progress!

Although this is very much a reflection of where I am right now, I’m curious to know where everyone else is... What have learned from your own mid-year reflections? 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.