Learning The Art of Teacherly Love

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 14 2012


Finally!  We have moved from our current headquarters at the Mastery Charter central office/the Pickett Campus to our permanent homeMann Elementary.

Our “Mann”-ly welcome began with the principal.  Let’s just say, this is a man on a mission.
He expects big things, and above all that we “Teach our hearts out.”  This sounds strikingly similar to what I plan to do!  And, again, I am hit with that reassurance that I am here on purpose.
Now, our Principal is rather driven too.  To give you a direct quote, “I like to be #1.  If you aren’t first, you’re last… Second place is just the first loser.” (That last statement I actually jokingly made last week when talking about silver medals in the Olympics… Thinking maybe we have similar mindsets, in regards to winning..)  When he speaks about being number one, here’s some context:  Among the 11 Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia, Mann is number one.  We were first last year in the PSSA scores (Pennsylvania standardized tests), our students made the most growth academically, and just in general, according to all Mann faculty, “we’re the best.”  I like being number one.  But… that means we have to push even further than others.  Because Mann is first in the Mastery standings, the bar moves up.  The new goal:  to be the best elementary school in Philadelphia.  With the incredible faculty that we have in the building though, and if we all “teach our hearts out,” we will be.
Here are some more Manntastic things I learned today:

  • We received “Welcome to Mann” gift bags and “We’re the Mann” Swag from the Director of Operations (she’s awesome!)
  • We have a big goal of making school fun!  Which means fun for teachers too!
  • All the staff that I have come in contact with have been so welcoming, willing to help with anything, and HAPPY! :) Being surrounded by happy colleagues… That’s just a win all around.
  • I have already begun to live out the saying, “Good teaching is good stealing.”  After we finished sessions today, I headed to the principal’s office to ask a few extra questions, and noticed a boxed set of 5th grade Calendar Math.. the whole set, all the pieces and resources were in there!  So, I asked, and I received!  Technically stolen?  Not quite.  Resourceful? Definitely.
  • My Special Education Administrator’s office is around the corner from my classroom! I will be running there.. a lot.
  • Air Conditioned rooms! For those of you thinking, “Wow, I sure hope you would have A/C especially after this summer…” This building is approaching 90 years of age… A/C in the classrooms is a blessing!  Many Philadelphia schools do not have that and are forced to close on days of extreme heat.
  • That being said, the hallways, stairwells, auditorium, and cafeteria do not have A/C… And the building comes with all the quirks and character qualities of being 90 years old… Tiny bathroom stalls, interesting light fixtures, and a general lack of electricity outlets, but beautiful architecture, high ceilings, and freshly polished hardwood floors.

I also received the keys to my classroom today!  My home away from home!
Say “Hello!” to the proud owner of Room 306 of Mastery Mann Elementary.  And yes, 306 is on the third floor… Which means, I will be getting my workouts in all day up and down those non-air conditioned stairs.. I hope to have incredibly sculpted calf and leg muscles thanks to this location.  And, I can’t wait to get my hands on everything that’s already in my room, and start decorating, organizing, and making it feel like home.

I left Mann feeling so great about everything; the “I’m overwhelmed!” feeling has not quite hit me.  But it’s coming very soon… Probably when I’m waist deep in books and paperwork that needs to sorted, labeled, and organized.  But I have a huge support team.  They’ve got my back, of that I am sure.

However, because I am not yet “in over my head,” I started to take note of some wonderful things during my drive home…
I find myself really loving the drive, actually, and each day I catch myself saying, “I love Philadelphia.”  My daily commute involves some of the prettiest parts of the city, right along the Schuylkill River (it’s pronounced Sku-kull, for those unfamiliar, and it took me weeks to figure out that pronunciation description).  I get to drive past City Hall (my favorite building in Philly), around the Art Museum (yes, the Rocky Steps), through Fairmount Park (huge and gorgeous), and into adorable West Philly neighborhoods.

Things I love most about my commute:

  • It’s quiet; great for zoning out and shutting the brain down for a time (except to drive, of course!)
  • Daily House Hunting! I drive through a few of Philly’s prettiest residential areas… Looking for my future home, maybe?! Or, most likely, just day dreaming..
  • I get to see local Philadelphians that make me smile; an older man walking home from work carrying a bouquet of sunflowers, moms watching as their children play in the fountain on Ben Franklin Parkway, and kids pointing at my car and punching their friend shouting, “Punch buggy!”

Things I am not too fond of about the drive:

  • I have quickly found out the following statement is very true:
    Stop SIGNS > Stop LIGHTS.  Note to self-find a route to work that has the fewest stop lights, potentially cutting 15 extra minutes out of my drive.

Needless to say, the pros outweigh the cons by a landslide, which makes for one happy Philadelphian-in-training! :)

Here are some photos to finish out the day:

A few examples of the Mastery Culture of Excellence we strive to create; and those quotes I love!

The current conditions of Mann-Room 306

Note the Mann Swag Bag! :)
Our shirts for ALL MASTERY DAY tomorrow (at the Wells Fargo Center!) say, “Who’s the Mann!”

P.S. Get used to the puns… It’s an unspoken job requirement in the world of teaching!

One Response

  1. Kiah Banfield

    SO SO SO happy for you, Brooke! I found myself smiling throughout your entire blog….keep it up!

    “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” 1 John 3:18

    <3 love you, miss you!

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Dare to Teach with Love… Never cease to Learn.

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Elementary School
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