Portfolio Interlude: Good-Bye to Young Writers

The Academy for Young Writers 2011-12 Staff on the roof of MS 50 in Williamsburg on the school’s last day there.

The goal of the portfolio is threefold: to document some of the work I did this past year, to take the time to reflect and learn, and to share with the larger community I am lucky to have through this blog.  I will be posting a portfolio entry a day until it’s done.  There are eight entries, one for each year of my career thus far.  Questions, comments, and thoughts are always greatly appreciated, but are even more so for this.  Previous entries are here.

I am very thankful for my short time at Young Writers, and I will take much from it to Harvest Collegiate.  Young Writers gets many things right, both big and small, that I want to highlight.

First, and beyond foremost, it is a caring and safe space for students.  That shone through even in the one day I spent here two years ago with ISA, and the year there deepened my appreciation and respect for the culture they created.  Students at Young Writers are truly known, and loved, by the staff.

The school is also a place I would recommend, without hesitation, to teachers.  It is a professional, hard-working environment, that takes the awesome responsibility we have as educators seriously.  They avoid the pitfall of too many small schools that try to be everything to everyone, and instead, have created a clear and consistent culture of learning and expression that was easy to walk into.  Their interim assessment structure, which I’m taking with me, emphasizes the most important skills in each department, giving teachers a strong spine on which to build the rest of a course.

Moving into a new building provides an invaluable opportunity young schools never get: that same pioneering spirit and energy that comes with the first couple of classes is likely to return next year, giving an opportunity for change and improvement that rarely exists in well run and established institutions.  When we had a transition of leadership at my previous school, we looked at it as an opportunity to go from “good to great,” but failed to even stay good.  With the strength of staff and leadership they will continue to have in place, I think Young Writers can make the jump to greatness.

Next Entry: Reflection on Teacher-Leadership /Professional Life Outside of School