Teaching Opinion

Advice for Starting a New Journey

By Starr Sackstein — June 28, 2016 3 min read
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As many may know I’ve toiled with leaving the classroom for a long time now and after much back and forth an opportunity arose that is setting me on a new journey that I’m excited to share.

In the fall, I will no longer be teaching a full course load of English and journalism, but instead will be working with teachers in a resource center.

Fortunately, I will still have the opportunity to teach one class which will keep my pedagogy sound and my heart open to what I fell in love with when I started teaching.

So I wanted to take the time to take some advice I’d give someone else in my own position (of course, it’s not always easy to do what we’d suggest to someone else!) and share some things I’ve learned over the last 14 years:

  • Change is hard, but it is always worthwhile as it is an opportunity for growth and new challenges. Teaching at my current school for the last nine years has been a wonderful experience. I’ve been tested in many ways but most importantly, it is because of this job that I’m even writing on this blog now. Much of my outside growth can be attributed to my time at WJPS. I’m very lucky.
  • Always keep an open mind. Although I’ve been teaching for a while, there is so much more to learn and in this new position, it’s like I’m starting from scratch. Working with teachers will be different and every time we take on new leadership positions, we need to be open to what comes with that choice. This is the epitome of the growth mindset and we must walk the walk as we talk the talk.
  • Develop meaningful working relationships. Although I’m certain I will gravitate toward people, it is essential to get to know as many folks as possible to best know how to contribute to the school community. Since I won’t have “a group” of my own when I get to where I’m going, I’m eager to get involved to see where I fit. How exciting to be able to meet new people and develop new working relationships.
  • Trust that you know. I’ve always felt like a fraud. Despite my exhaustive studies and growth, I never feel like I live up what others see in me. There are moments where I feel confident, but most of the time I realize I have so much to learn and I don’t want to disappoint anyone. Continuing to push on, I will trust that I am the competent worker everyone else sees and I will own that understanding.
  • Know when to ask for help. The above being said, having a growth mindset means that I must be open to knowing when help is needed. As I get to know my new surroundings, I must acknowledge when I know and what I don’t know and then go to the appropriate person for help. This is NOT a sign of weakness, but rather a testament to my want to grow as a person and leader.
  • Listen to others when they speak. To truly be a good leader and support to others, I need to know what they want and need. To do that, I will need to truly hear what they are saying. Making eye contact and helping others create goals that will make them successful is possibly what I’m most excited about in my new position. So I plan on listening carefully to everyone.
  • Remember what it is all about. My new job is about supporting teachers and to be able to do that, I need to know them well, listen and help support them in ways that work for them, NOT ways that only work for me. I’m eager to share what I know but am really hoping for a reciprical relationship where we grow together and the students benefit from it.
  • Be patient. Although I may know what I need to do or know who to ask when I need something, I won’t be perfect it at. It will likely take time for me to really develop the skills I need to be great and no one expects me to be the best on day one. Patience is a hard lesson for me, but I’m always looking to practice it more.

Although I’m sad about leaving the place I’ve called home for so long, I’m certain I’ve made the right decision. The programs I’ve created will go on and everyone will exist just fine without me. Eagerly I’ll poke in from time to time to see how my friends, colleagues and students are doing and applaud them quietly from the side as it will no longer be my place to intervene. I’m quite proud of my time at WJPS, but it’s time to move on.

What advice do you have for someone starting a new journey? 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.