So, I applied for another job.
My interview was yesterday, and by the end, it took all of my willpower to not launch myself across the conference table and say, “can I start tomorrow?”
It’s not that the school promises to give me everything I want. In fact, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t even have furniture yet.
It’s not that the demographics are even that different. In fact, there’s a good chance there will actually be fewer students of color, simply because of where the boundaries are, and where this school will be built.
It’s not that I’d have an easier schedule. In fact, there’s a good chance that I’ll be teaching multiple grade levels, which means eight (yes, eight) novels to preview and write lesson plans for.
So why, then? Because the administrator that was interviewing me said the following:
“Equity needs to be at the forefront of everything we do at this new school.”
“A lot of these kids have never seen kids or teachers that don’t look or sound or live just like them. Which is weird, but so incredibly necessary, because that is how the real world is. It’s diverse! We need to help all students navigate the realities of this system.”
And my personal favorite:
“Look, I’m a middle-upper class white lady. I need to be cognizant of that in every interaction I have with students and families. I need to always be checking my privilege, you know?”
Ohhh, lady, do I know.
It was just so refreshing to hear someone speak so openly about equity, privilege, and race. There was no blushing, no “hmmm,” or “well…” or, “well, let’s remember that there’s not only one form of privilege.” I haven’t been able to really do that for the three years I’ve been at my current school. I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear it.
This administrator seemed to get it, and as she spoke to me about her vision for the new school, (which includes signage in three languages, by the way. Eeeeeee!) I felt like she was reaching into my broken, jaded little teacher heart and trying to glue it back together.
There’s this anxious side of me that hopes this will be The Place where it all comes together. I’ve taught at three different schools, and I went into each one excited at the prospects, and each one was missing something.
I’m not naive. I know there will be challenges ahead. This is, after all, a new school that will be mashing two previous middle schools together. It’s not going to be easy to build a school culture from the ground up.
Yet, I want to. With this administrator, I could see her passion for equity and for all of our students, and for our families. I could see that she was genuine when she said that every staff member would be working on their knowledge about this crazy stacked system we all live in. And while it will be hard, I want to help her build that school culture.
I walked out of the interview feeling hopeful about my future as an educator. I haven’t felt that in a long, long time. It feels weird. I feel wary about feeling hopeful. But it also feels really, really, really damn good.