Back in November I talked to my head of school to let him know that I was seeking leadership opportunities. I love my school, it is a fabulous place to work, and one of the things I love about it the most is that everyone has some shared responsibility for leadership in different areas of the school. We have two directors, one for the Junior School division, and one for the Senior School division, both of whom I admire and respect very much, and we have many people with minor leadership roles, essentially creating a somewhat flat hierarchy. One of the problems with this hierarchy though is that I have no way to gain enough experiences at my school to learn enough to be to able to take on the role of a Director position. In my conversation with my head of school, we realized this, and realized that I would probably need to look at moving onto a new school or other role if I wanted a greater leadership role.
I sent off an email to my best friends around the world and asked their advice. Most of them responded, and after doing some independent job search through the various international schools around the world, I ended up with eight different job offers to explore, all of which entailed more of a leadership role than I currently have.
The most exciting of these opportunities came through my friend Andrew Stillman who works for New Visions for Public Schools in NYC. Andrew connected me to Janet Price, Director of Instruction for New Visions, who decided (after reviewing my resume and interviewing me with a team of others) to offer me a job as a Math Formative Assessment Specialist for New Visions, which I accepted. I start at the beginning of July.
My core duties at New Visions will be:
- Collaborate with MASTER program staff and faculty at Hunter College to design and implement new curriculum and assessments for MASTER residents focused around the development of pedagogical content knowledge in math.
- Collaborate with New Visions and Hunter College faculty on in-field coaching and assessment of mentors and residents. Work with the team to set standards, review candidates’ progress, and iteratively adjust the program design
- Curate tasks that support embedded formative assessment strategies and develop teacher training for effective teacher use of these tasks to support learning through units of algebra and geometry in the common a2i curriculum
- Meet weekly with school-based teams in two New Visions high schools to, through a collaborative inquiry process:
- Implement a common-core aligned curriculum in algebra and geometry
- Facilitate looking at student work on formative assessment tools, including pre-unit, post-unit and day-to-day units to continuously improve curriculum , inform future lessons and identify areas for re-engaging students in content and processes
- Facilitate the development of teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge and instructional strategy “toolboxes” through:
- Assisting teachers in developing their listening, questioning and feedback skills and their ability to engineer effective classroom tasks
- Leading the math teacher teams in an inquiry process within and across schools to continuously use information gleaned from student work to improve instruction and meet student needs
- Meet regularly with math coaches to, through a collaborative inquiry process, reflect on the teachers’ progress as evidenced by student work and revise and plan new interventions and supports to move teachers forward.
- Assist in planning and facilitating of cross-school inquiry.
- Build and sustain relationships with schools and principals and support capacity building in participating schools.
- Engage in 5 hours per week in peer-to-peer learning and support on a team of Instructional Specialists and Residency Coaches
I’m looking forward to this role, while at the same time feeling sad about leaving my current role, my colleagues, my students, and Vancouver (a city I have grown to love, despite its rain). Change is always uncomfortable, although this is somewhat easier for my wife and I, given that this will be the fourth different country we’ve moved to together. Also, I started my teaching career in NYC, and lived for three years, so I am fairly familiar with the city.
I’m going to miss British Columbia, but I have no intention of severing my connection to it. This role in NYC will not last forever, and I hope to keep intact my ties here in British Columbia for when my wife and I decide that we miss Vancouver and our friends too much, and want to return home.
Those of you who have been following my work for a while will know that I am passionate about two main areas in education, mathematics education and the application of technology to education. This role will help me pursue my passion for improving mathematics education, and knowing me, I will almost certainly bring in technology to whatever role I do.