Saturday, June 25, 2016

I was feeling sorry for myself . . .

. . . here it was nearing the end of June, and we still hadn't completed our hiring for the next school year. For every teacher applicant who agreed to a meeting with us, there were 10 who had already been hired at another school or declined to interview (too far, no transportation, etc.).

This year more than any other in my tenure at our school, we had a lot of staff leave. All were for good reasons - retirement, new assignment for their military spouse, beginning the journey to become an administrator, staying home with their new baby, or moving to a new school either here in Hawaii or in a different state. No one left because they wanted to quit teaching.

As I continued to send emails or make phone calls to teacher candidates inviting them to interview with us, I received phone calls from principals in other states about two of our teachers. While I knew these teachers were exploring possibilities of venturing away from Hawaii and seeking new opportunities elsewhere, those phone calls were not what I needed at the time. As I spoke with the principals, though, I realized that they were just like me. They were looking for the "right" teacher for their school, and they were relying on my feedback to validate what they heard during their interview. Those of us in administration want the same thing: We want teachers who are committed to teaching, who treat others with respect, who are not just teachers but learners as well, and whose primary reason for teaching is to guide and support students to maximize their potential and to love learning. We know that teaching requires a commitment to doing all we can to prepare our students for their future. I ended my conversation with these principals with, "I know they'll be in good hands if they go to your school. Make sure they share what they've learned here and help them continue to grow as educators." They promised to do so.

Because our school has a high rate of transiency due to our military-impacted enrollment, we tell our students that when they leave us, they are "ambassadors" for our school and for schools in Hawaii. We emphasize the General Learner Outcomes because if we are able to demonstrate these GLOs in our daily lives, we will be successful wherever we are. The same goes for our teachers who leave our school or leave Hawaii and go on to teach elsewhere. They will learn new skills and strategies in their new school, and hopefully, they will share what they've learned during their tenure at our school. They are ambassadors as well!

And special thanks to our Student Services Coordinator who shared with me what she said to one of our teachers who's leaving. "I'm sad for us," she said, "but I'm excited for you!" She speaks from experience; she came to Hawaii years ago as a brand new teacher from the mainland, and now, this is her home. Her words helped me realize that I needed to snap out of my woe-is-me attitude. Thanks, Teri :-)

Last school year, we had no new teachers. This year, we'll be hiring a mix of first year teachers and those who've relocated to Hawaii but have taught elsewhere. Every individual brings something different to the table; that's what makes every school unique. I am confident that we will have another great year at our school!

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