Alyssa Gallagher

What was this rookie assignment (the role, task or event)? 

My rookie assignment was to help lead the charge to "revolutionize learning for all students" in an extremely high performing school district.

When was it? Set the scene of the time you were in.

It was August 2010 and I had just accepted the role of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction.  As a former teacher, assistant principal and site principal, I had experienced great success improving student learning experiences at many levels but never before with the same level of visibility or on such a large scale.

While the district had an incredible student performance track record spanning decades, the history of success was actually impeding future growth and change needed for our students. As the new Assistant Superintendent I knew that I would have to question long-standing practices and encourage people to think differently about learning.

What were nervous or worried about?

I was nervous about the expectations that come with an "Assistant Superintendent" role and knew to successfully revolutionize learning I would have to get comfortable pushing the boundaries of my role as I was learning it. I was also worried about the public perception of some change and knew that many people were happy with the status quo.

What were you hopeful about?

I was hopeful about all of the undiscovered possibilities in teaching and learning. I knew that if we could successfully empower and excite our teachers to revolutionize learning, there would be support from a tremendously talented group of teachers who also saw the power of questioning past practices and importance of investigating new methodologies.

What was the outcome?

An exhausting but exhilarating three year journey that helped to change the culture of school district from a learning organization to a relearning organization - one that is willing to shed outdated assumptions and question all practices based on what is best for students. The journey is far from over and continues under new leadership.

What would be possible in your current job if you could re-invigorate this same rookie self?

I would approach my current tasks with a broader "what if" stance and draw in outside resources to help accelerate change.

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