My new role within my school community is going to be multi-faceted.
I need to start with listening, and already in my first conversations with people outside the school’s community I can see that I’m going to need to to work on this. As someone who is rarely at a loss for words, I will need to find ways to make sure listening remains at the core of what I do. I will probably seek to find ways to continually reinforce the importance of that in my practice. It’s not just about telling the story — it’s about telling the right story — and there’s no way to do that consistently without listening.
Luckily, my “perch” in the Upper School puts me within easy range of most of that office’s walk-in traffic. Last week, as families were working through their back-to-school checklists, I heard a distinct undercurrent of anxiety.
Beginnings can be scary. Change is usually a challenge. The beginning of the school year brings our families and students new teachers, new routines, new classes, and, for 123 Rutgers Prep students this year, an entirely new SCHOOL! It’s all exciting, but it can definitely also generate anxiety. I have an idea for a media project that might help address that. I’m superstitious, so I don’t want to say more than that just now. But stay tuned.
So that’s the community-facing facet of my new work. Then there’s the work that is more directly related to my peers. On any given day, there are multiple people on this campus who represent our school to stakeholders and other interested parties. Together, we command a deep and impressive understanding of what makes this place “tick.” But we’re busy, and scattered across campus, and we can’t always connect with each other quickly. I want to work to somehow help enable our “hive mind” capabilities. A wiki, maybe? A Google Docs-based Brag Book? We’ll see. That’s the team facet.
And finally there’s me, standing at the bottom of a learning curve and looking straight up. For while there are ways in which I am especially well-suited to this work, there are some obvious, near-painful gaps. I need to get out of the Upper School. There are teachers here who I’ve never really had a conversation with and whose grade level I might be unsure of if I saw them in the Dining Commons. So that’s my very own personal facet of the work ahead. In the words of the Music Man’s immortal Harold Hill, “You gotta know the territory!”