This is what has often happened before in other schools: new teachers are introduced with a brief bio. Often new teachers are expected to say something about how pleased they are to be there. We have been told we are working in "one of the best/top/leading" international schools (choose your superlative here). We have been told the IB scores and the AP scores and told we are doing "better than average". We have had to listen to a presentation about student life, a presentation about curriculum development and goals, we have been told to put away our laptops and listen.
So what was different?
First of all it was a celebration - two new campuses ready for students in really just a matter of weeks in the case of the secondary school and several months in the case of the elementary. It was a reminder that we are all new. None of us have ever worked in a school like this before, even though almost all of the teachers were here last year we are all new to this. Plus I was expected to use my computer to take notes.
Another difference - it was our voices that were being heard. Our superintendent's presentation lasted over 3 1/2 hours, but we were active participants in it. Our opinions were valued. Craig was curious to listen to what we were saying. We came up with verbs to describe our objectives for the day: the people at my table agreed that the most important verb was to connect. Other groups on different tables came up with different goals: interact, inspire, energize, communicate, explore, embrace, share, reflect, appreciate. Since these were our goals, it was our responsibility to meet them.
We were a very large group - hundreds of educators. Craig gave us a number, 5%. He asked "What question is this the answer to?" Some people knew the question - it is that only 5% of teachers grow significantly after PD in groups of 15 people or more. Clearly this meeting was a challenge because of numbers - and yet looking around the room I could see everyone growing. I think everyone was given something new to think about, everyone was inspired in some way. It's an interesting statistic, especially considering that most classes have 15 or more students in them. It's a challenge to us as teachers to think about how to reach the other 95% of students!
I'm going to write more posts about this first day as there is a lot to think about and I want to chunk it up into those separate thoughts before bringing them all back together again. I want to explore some of the resources that Craig shared with us too. I did cry on my first day here - I cried looking at a movie about what it meant to be a winner. I cried, but they were tears of joy, not sadness.