I'm a regular reader of advice columns, as I am a regular advice giver and taker, myself. So, at least twice a week, I read about someone's crazy boss, who is unapproachable and delusional.
|Sometimes I can relate.|
Today, I helped to indoctrinate nine new facilitators into the Way of the New Tech. By lunchtime, I was sure that we had ruined their lives. Their mouths were slack in shock and I still think one of them looked like they were about to cry as they tried to create a project briefcase in Echo. But throughout the day, the founding facilitators were on hand, poking their heads in and reminding us that we were them once.
|This is what all New Tech facilitators look like after they've got a year under their belts.|
So when I got home today, after saying goodbye to Dr. Vega, I looked through my past blogs and tried to reconcile the year that I really experienced and what it all meant.
I left this blog way back in February, at the inception of NTO's first Writing Center, which is still the baby that I think I'm most proud of and most excited to be working on again next year. I'll be sitting down with the local university to do some studies, which we will hopefully be presenting at the South Central Writing Center Association this year (maybe with some learners!).
In April, we launched another baby of mine, the Hector Mendez Reading Series, which brought in two amazing authors in April and May. The learners who were able to attend were, I think, blown away, and I'm expecting an even bigger turnout next year.
|Pictured: What being blown away looks like. I think.|
In May, we had our Spring Formal, which was alternately terrifying and wonderful. It was wonderful, because we got to see our learners dressed up for something that wasn't a presentation. It was terrifying, because sometimes Dr. Vega forgot to chaperone once and started dancing by himself in the foyer of the school. Also, there were just generally a lot of mustaches involved in that night; that wasn't terrifying. It's just an observation.
|You can't tell, but right after this, he started doing the worm.|
And those are all wonderful, life-affirming, career-affirming moments. I mean, really. But they don't really come close to the highlight of the spring semester. I mean, Dr. Vega twerking is something, I guess, but it's not the highlight.
No, the highlight was NSYNC.
|It's, like, a metaphor for this blog post.... Whooaaaa....|
One day, my team teacher got off the phone and sat down in his chair, looking shell-shocked.
"What's wrong?" I asked him.
"I can't believe I just agreed to that," he said, horrified. "I just can't believe it. What have I done?"
I, of course, thought he'd agreed to spearhead another Culture Day, or maybe a school-wide project, or another school dance. You know, one of the usual things that make us horrified when we realize what we've gotten ourselves into.
"I," said my team teacher, "am going to be a Backstreet Boy for the talent show."
|"It's basically the same as One Direction, right?" said no teenager ever.|
Yes, dear readers, our male facilitators had agreed to lip-synch to a Backstreet Boys song for our Culture Day talent show, no doubt envisioning the swooning learners and flashing cameras of the Digital Portfolio classes.
And I told myself, "Oh, this will not do." Because, you see, I'm a giver, and I wanted to, you know, not steal their thunder, but, perhaps, contribute to their endeavors. Except stealthily. And without their consent.
Spice Girls was the obvious choice. We would counter their swaying and emphatic hand motions with a rigorous and girl-powery dance routine. The talent show coordinator was in on the plan and a particular fan of zigazigah. But Dr. Vega is sly and sussed out our plan before it was off the ground. By the next week, he was cracking Ginger Spice jokes in the corridors. So, we laughed. Oh, how we laughed.
Because, gentle reader, our plan had changed. By that time, we were already elbow deep in a dance routine for the true foes of the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC. And not one but two of the founding facilitators were our biggest supporters in this.
And there's just something about dancing elbow-to-elbow with someone, there's something about pumping your fist into the air and then flapping your hand goodbye at an invisible audience, that makes you realize that if you weren't family before, then you sure as hell are now.
Today, I found myself reminding the new hires, over and over again, that we're a family. And it might have taken a while for me to understand, but family at NTO, as a facilitator, means that you trust your co-workers to support you unconditionally. There are many things that make working at a New Tech school one of the most frustrating experiences I've ever had and most of them have to do with being the type of person who gets hired for this position in the first place.
We are Apple Distinguished, we are a New Tech Network National Demonstration Site, we have an on-campus art gallery, a visiting writer reading series, a Writing Center, and more. All of that comes with so much responsibility that sometimes it makes me a little dizzy to realize how much we are doing as a high school going into its third year of existence.
But I'm not alone. I've never been alone.
One of our staff norms is "embrace change." It's easy to say, but it was hard to look at Vega today and realize that he would never be there to do facilitate those traditions that I associate with NTO: he's the guy who stands outside every day to shake the hands of every single student (and check his watch very obviously if you're cutting it close to 8:30). He's the guy who reads the morning and afternoon announcements, "Good afternoon, New Tech OOOOOOOOOdessa. We've come to the end of another day here at NTO. Learners, facilitators, I have a few announcements, so hands up!" He's the guy with the manic speeches, for whom nothing is ever good enough and the sky is the limit. He's the guy with the catch-phrases:
Handle your business!
On time, on task, on a mission!
So, when we learned that Vega was leaving this week, it was definitely a shock. I'm happy for him, because I think he's moving onto something he's definitely earned and somewhere where he'll be able to make a huge difference in the lives of students. I'm also thrilled for our new principal, Ms. Salcido, because I think she's going to continue to push us in an exciting direction.
But most of all, I'm relieved at how much trust I have in my fellow facilitators. This next year will be great, because we're a family. This next year will surpass even Vega's wildest dreams, because they're the type of team that's willing to give their afternoons and weekends to learning seriously the world's hardest dance like ever, so that the learners can have a good laugh (maybe or maybe not at the expense of the male facilitators). They're the type to show up to a training that they're not even spearheading, just to let you know that they support you.
And maybe one of these days we'll actually get around to performing that dance.
We're not in any hurry. We would only be persuaded to perform for the children.
In the meantime, who knows the places we'll go.