20. Growth Mindset- Holding On To What Is Important.

Summer growth: important for teachers too! (Photo: M. Towne)

When I started teaching, I had the dream of being in the same school for the duration of my career.  I had teachers in high school who had always taught at Roosevelt High- Mr. Brink, Ms. Ryles, VK. My father's best friend had been a student of Mr. Brink in the 1960's for history and I took his class in the mid 90's.  It was in Brink's class that I really leaned to take notes- good notes.  The note taking skills that would serve me through college.  He was a legend and had a legacy.  Ruben Van Kempen, affectionately known by his students as VK has just retired this year after 37 years. Ms. Ryles taught sewing and textiles for 30+ years as well, truly a dying art form.  I loved those teachers and those classes.  They were tied up in the romanticism of teaching for me as I went through graduate school.  This is what teaching was going to be like.

I was wrong.  I will say this- there is a HUGE difference between my affluent, super white, privileged high school where something like 85+% of students go onto 4 year colleges right after graduation (I did not) and the majority of NYC public high schools.  It's ok that I was wrong.

I started my career in an alternative high school in Brownsville, Brooklyn.  I don't know that I thought I would be there for 30 years, but I wanted to be there for a long time.  I wanted to learn and grow into the educator I knew I could be.  At some point my evolution halted and I felt angry and frustrated with the career I had loved so much.

How do we, as educators, as professionals continue to develop and grow- to hold onto that growth mindset, the for many of us pushed us to teaching in the first place?  

I am doing two things.

First, I am taking a class, that starts this week actually at NYU School of Professional Studies.  It is all for me and is not about pedagogy.  It is a writing class and my hope is that it will challenge me professionally and intellectually and as a result I will discover new things to being back to my classroom.  

Second, I am beginning a two year program in school administration.  While I don't know at this point if I want to be an admin, I do want to understand more about how schools work and the nuts and bolts that hold all the parts and pieces together.  I want to be a better coach and mentor to teachers as a teacher leader and to develop a deeper understanding of the bigger picture.  

Right now, this is the best way for me to continue to grow as an educator. Going back to school scares the heck out of me.  I have the support and encouragement of my current administration, a huge piece in this next step.  Inevitably, I will move forward to new challenges and professional endeavors.  I don't know that I was meant to be in one classroom in one school for 30 years but I want to be a strong voice in my field and I will do everything in my power to continue to "grow" the strength of my voice.


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