(Originally posted at Education, Leadership and 21st Century Pedagogy.)
By Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez
The Back to School blog posts are appearing. They’re showing up in our in boxes, our Twitter feeds, on Google+ and our Facebook feeds. Where just a week ago, our social media was filled with pictures of smiling couples, groups of friends or parents with their children poolside, by the ocean or on hikes discovering the glory of mother nature, this week’s feeds are filled with teacher memes, pinterest ideas and the Back to School post as we look forward to another year of welcoming new teachers to our profession, watching colleagues take on new positions or grow into teacher leaders.
It’s an exciting time. The new teacher ignites the experienced educator with renewed passion bringing fresh ideas and energy. Watching the staff in my district prepare for the new school year throughout the summer, makes me proud to be a part of our team. I’m struck however, that while this is the fourth district I will be serving in my 23rd year, the dedication from district to district is the same. The support educators give one another, the belief in the potential of our students and in each other and the understanding that the work we do matters are hallmarks of a profession filled with servant leaders.
While the energy is by far mostly positive and as a group, our profession embraces the work of Carol Dweck’s Mindset, there are pockets of negativity that start to creep in. Every staff seems to have “that teacher” who sometimes finds a commiserating colleague to join in their negative energy. They make appearances, usually brief appearances, but their energy can quickly change a room. These members of our profession really are a very small percentage of who we are, yet, I found myself today, having an important conversation with a new teacher who had questions about a colleague that didn’t share her enthusiasm.
This conversation made me think of the responsibility we have as education leaders, whether at the district level, site level, or perhaps most importantly, the teacher leader level. It is an important part of our jobs to protect our young enthusiastic teachers, to surround them with support and to prepare to celebrate their accomplishments. Let us embrace the excitement of the first year teacher who’s room was ready to go at the beginning of July, who has been scouring ads for those great Back to School deals and stocking up and who, this is my favorite, is ready to jump into supporting 21st Century Learning PD because her high school and college years were filled with the type of innovative instruction that redefines classroom instruction that we continue to encourage more experienced members of our profession to embrace.
As you begin your year, focusing on the needs of your students, lesson planning and finding some time for yourself, please keep an eye on those new to our ranks. Embrace them with positivity, share your resources, guide them and learn from them. Let us challenge ourselves to grow our ranks with joy, passion and support of one another.