On June 8th I started the most intense program I have ever done in my life. I started a fourteen-month program at Teachers College at Columbia University. It has been the most intense and demanding experience in my academic career. I am about to finish the first semester this week and I loved it. The program is intense like no other. Most of our homework must be done by midnight east standard time. Even at the moments when I am completely overwhelmed, I have a group of other 29 students that understands what I am going through, they are in my cohort and they are incredible!
In my cohort, we are 30 people. 1 Philipino, 4 White, 6 Latinos, and 19 African American leaders in education. We all share our passion for working with black and brown children. We all come from different educational backgrounds and expertise. We come from charter and traditional schools, there are teachers, coaches, assistant principals, and people that teach in juvenile correction centers.
I am very glad that I pick this program, not only for the academics -there are tons of cheaper less demanding programs- but for the people that I have met from all over the southern states. They have thought me so much, and we will keep learning from our program and from each other for another 12 months.
When I signed up for this program, I believed it was going to be a traditional comprehensive curriculum with a touch of “leadership self-evaluations”. To my surprise, this program has been very much about reflecting on my own leadership. This program by no means is working on making me a Principal with good leadership skills. This program is supporting my vision of being an educational leader with a Principal’s license.
I am very surprised about how much I know. The validation that I have received from my professors and my classmates has been overwhelming, it has made me realized that in Minnesota I just do not have the human capital and the means to show it. I am on the right track.
Something else that is included in this program is a set of coaches that support my leadership from many different angles. For example, they use a company called Culture7.Co -in case you still need a coach- they are fantastic! They did a 360 evaluation that I sent to my former board and staff. Their coaching head and the team is working with me in the areas that I need development.
I also get a meditation class every morning. They really stress how much taking care of ourselves will give us longevity in our jobs. Another great part is other classes where I get to analyze power structures and how to deal with conflict. We practice by having a conflict with a classmate while the coaches guide us with what is being said and our body language.
For forever I questioned to stay in a program in Minnesota or to go pay an Ivy league program lots of money that could have been used on traveling. I questioned everything, I also remembered that I needed to think big. That is what the Bush Fellowship is all about, and I remembered that at El Colegio we have a big painting of Mohamed Ali that says if your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.