Spence Hosts Peer Independent School Department Chairs for a NYSAIS Professional Development Workshop
Educators across the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) participated in a workshop at Spence, led by Director of Teaching and Learning Eric Zahler, Head of the Science Department Dalia Aidoo, and former Head of History Department, Stephen Mak, who is now Assistant Head of School for Program and Innovation at The Berkeley Carroll. The workshop, titled Both Fish and Fowl, refers to the unique role department chairs have as leaders from the middle—accomplished teachers centered on educating students that are also asked to supervise colleagues. “What's often hard about the department head role is its in-betweenness: you are both colleague and supervisor, cheerleader and boss, teacher and administrator,” said Zahler. “My hope is that the workshop allows our participants to experience this liminality as perhaps challenging, but also totally thrilling: a rich zone of leadership in teaching and learning.”
The three-part workshop brings together more than 40 NYSAIS participants and focuses on building skills helpful to educators new in the Department Chair role: how to design effective meetings, manage difficult conversations, acquire a sense of the opportunities and challenges of the department head role, and gain a deeper understanding of the strengths each participant brings to leadership, as well as their areas for growth. Throughout the day, participants share ideas and questions in a collaborative and open setting, developing a strong network of other new chairs across the NYSAIS landscape. This is the inaugural in-person iteration of the workshop series, which will continue throughout the year.