In the Guilford Public Schools, our focus on academic performance and instructional effectiveness has continued, as it has for all of us in the role of educational leader, to pull our attention and our energies ever more deeply into the consideration of how learning best occurs for individuals who are — always — complex, reflective, emotional beings.
Whether we are considering how to help teachers be more culturally sensitive and trauma informed in their instructional moves, planning tasks and curricular arcs that build social and emotional wellness rather than tax it as they set challenging academic expectations for all students in our classrooms, or working with our principals and leaders to be more reflective and more confidently vulnerable as they model their own learning within their leadership, we are finding more and more that the need to center individual identities, stories and persons challenges the assembly line and factory model that many of our school structures and communities still cling to. I am constantly challenged and invigorated by the fact that, as an educational leader, I have come to this work at a time when the profession is coming to recognize the value and the importance of the individual in learning, at both the classroom and the professional level, and I continue to be both challenged and inspired by the enormity of that change.
And it is from the midst of that exciting work that I find myself looking forward to joining all of you at the 2020 AASA National Conference in San Diego next week. The topic of Personalization in Education could not be more timely and fitting for the work that we are doing in Guilford, and the opportunity to re-engage with friends from around the country who I have not seen since Los Angeles last year or since the Board of Directors’ meeting in D.C. this past July has me excited and ready to go.
Time away from the district is hard, but time with thoughtful colleagues who are wrestling with this same work, time with leaders in our field and in our profession, who will push my thinking, and time with friends who understand the challenges of leadership could not be more valuable.
I am looking forward to catching up on the latest policy updates from Noelle Ellerson Ng and her advocacy team and to continuing the Board’s work on our legislative agenda and updating the beliefs and position statements for our organization at Wednesday’s Governing Board meeting, as I am looking forward to catching up with all my friends from Region 7 and from around the country.
And I am looking forward to a conference that is full of opportunities to both share and further the work that is happening in Guilford. The general sessions with David Brooks, Linda Darling-Hammond and Mawi Asgedom promise to speak to those individual concerns of heart, personalization and equity. Friends like Michael Moody and Jason Stricker are both offering further breakout and roundtable sessions to talk more deeply about equity, and Connecticut superintendent and good friend Mark Benigni will be part of a thought leader discussion digging more deeply into personalization of instruction. I am looking forward to hearing Susan Moore Johnson share from her newest book Where Teachers Thrive: Organizing Schools for Success, and (shameless plug) I am excited to talk with you at my roundtable session on Thursday at 3 p.m. about the learning of our most important leaders, our principals, as they shape everything that happens in our schools.
The biggest challenge that I know I will confront will be finding the time to be a part of all the important conversations that I know I will want to join. But that is a challenge that I am ready to embrace.
See you in San Diego.