One year when I was a Leadership Trainer, I had a Violence Prevention Project (VPP) unit in then Columbus High School, which at the time was one of the largest high schools in the Bronx. I facilitated VPP in four classes: two ELA classes, an Art class, and one Special Ed freshman class.
Photo Credit: "Partners", JD Hancock, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdhancock/
The teacher I had the pleasure of working with in the last of these classes was exceptional. To this day she remains one of my favorite examples of an ideal teacher partner, devoting her full attention to the program for the 45 minutes each week given to the VPP lessons, sending a clear message to the students that these topics were as important as anything else they were studying in her class.
During one lesson, Guess Who I Am, as the group was discussing the importance of knowing our own strengths in a world where everyone is quick to point out other people’s weaknesses, the teacher shared openly with the group a self-realization: she had been calling home to talk to parents when students were unruly, but had not been calling home when students had an especially good day. She was going to change that, and moving forward would be sure to call parents to let them know how well their children were doing on days when they made the effort and had a really successful day. The teacher’s openness and willingness to recognize an opportunity for her own growth and change made the space entirely safe for students to share their reflections on areas where they needed to grow and improve.
The teacher followed through on her promise and brought her new perspective to that class and to future classes she taught, benefitting a generation of students. That’s sustainability!
"Stories from the Field: The Power of Teacher Partners", The Leadership Program, Inc. 2016