By: Chris Ouellette
NEALS VP, Director of Learning Support, Emma Willard
Hello folx! Happy August to you all! As I dive into learning profiles to begin my third week here at Emma Willard, I find myself reflecting on what I can control in order to support my shift to a new school for the 2022-2023 academic year. I have found list formats to be helpful, so here are four things to do when starting at a new school:
1. Know your team
As you begin your time, it is in your best interest to introduce yourself early to the team of people you will be working with. This team should include more than your direct supervisor and/or direct reports. What departments will you be connecting with regularly? What departments will you be connecting with on a less than regular basis? If it isn’t clear, ask. If you were wondering, my list is currently at: Academic Office, Dean’s Office, Business Office, College Counseling Office, Academic Tech Office, English Department, Math Department…
2. Know your students
We know that getting to know your students is the best way to positively impact the strength and outcomes of our sessions. While you read evaluations, previous academic comments, and input from various constituents, it is important to remember that this is only a piece of the picture. Taking the time to develop a relationship with your students is how we help make the best informed decisions with regard to support (I know we all do this, and it is also a good reminder even if we aren’t at a new institution).
3. Know what you know, and don’t be afraid to ask
Be confident in the knowledge you are bringing to your new community. You were hired for a reason, know that what you bring is desired there. That being said, each school has a different set of routines, habits, language, etc. You should bring your entire bag of tools, and it will help to spend some time thinking about how those tools fit into your new community. If you are curious about why something is done, ask! While we are getting to know our new communities, they are getting to know us. We come with the advantage of having fresh eyes on the systems that the schools have in place, so I encourage you to question the ‘why’.
4. Use your previous experience, don’t get stuck in it
It doesn’t matter if your previous job was the best experience or the worst, you definitely learned something. Give yourself time to reflect on what you learned, make a list if you have to. What was that new tool you learned about that was super helpful to your students? Did you find a new way to build relationships that strengthened your student sessions? Did you have specific interactions with colleagues that led you to do something differently as you enter your new community? Did your supervisor act in a way that left you wondering? The things you learned shape who you bring to your new community, and even if all you learned was how not to lead in the future, that’s still a pretty powerful learning outcome.
This list is a solid starting line, and there is so much more you will need to do to acclimate to your new community. The group Atmosphere tells us that “inspiration stems from love and stress compounding," and that seems to be a great way to describe the way I am feeling as I look to inspire a new community!
-Wednesday 9/7/22 Book Discussion- “Think Again” by Adam Grant
led by Chris Ouellette.
Blurb: “Intelligence is usually seen as the ability to think and learn, but in a rapidly changing world, there's another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn. In our daily lives, too many of us favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt.” -Adam Grant
Best of luck as you begin your 2022-2023 academic years!