Last Friday was the first of three days of programming for my department. There are two more days – Monday and Tuesday.
It’s quite the challenge to set the schedule a year in advance, particularly when it’s your vision and you won’t be there to see it take form. Essentially there will be four new teachers in the department, one being the role of English Coordinator. Make no mistake, the person replacing me is quite an experienced teacher and coordinator. She has coordinated for much longer than I have, which is why, in part I want to ensure that her transition to our school is as seamless as possible.
I have been incredibly privileged to lead a highly motivated, intelligent and articulate department of teachers who are dynamic and progressive in their teaching. They consider themselves to be lifelong learners and love working collaboratively. They never teach the same thing in the same way twice. They like to refine each program and rewrite it or create new programs if they feel as though the current one no longer suits the needs of the students. They contribute to the wider vision of the school and they are most definitely leaders in our school. They are positive, energetic and take their work very seriously. They inspire students and inspire me on a daily basis.
They wanted some programming time because they wanted to write some new programs and refine existing ones. I was so pleased to see the array of resources they referred to when programming. On the table was a file filled with student evaluations and student work. They had the suggestions of their students on the table. These informed the programming and planning process. Along with the Understanding By Design model and beginning with the core question of “what is it we want our students to learn from this unit?” they were talking about assessment and doings some backwards design.
I am so proud of the way that they work, particularly because this was a model of programming that I had instigated at the school, in this department. Prior to when I worked at the school, programs were written by the Coordinator and assessments were written during the year, during the unit. I wanted them to see that they could write programs and assessments, without the coordinator. I remember there was opposition to it. Initially they said that it was the role of the coordinator to make these decisions. I couldn’t fathom how intelligent teachers would think that because they weren’t coordinators, they couldn’t write programs or assessments. My greatest achievement has been building capacity and empowering my staff. They have done amazing things.
Thinking about the programming days, I must admit I am proudly sitting around the table, allowing others to lead the process. They are empowered and the programs they are developing are creative and provide meaningful learning opportunities. I don’t have to drive the process. I am so proud of their efforts which is why I want to give them the opportunity to refine the curriculum and create a program of study for 2012 that will showcase their talent,creativity and knowledge. The programs will allow for autonomy and flexibility of approach.
I’ve always said that a good coordinator is one who essentially empowers their staff so that they essentially do themselves out of a job. In some ways I feel that I’ve empowered my staff in a way that they don’t need to rely on me.