Talking Heads

Independent schools are mission-driven institutions, and often a school's mission is best articulated and embodied by the Head of School. As part of this Casenex series, five independent school Heads, representing diverse schools, were interviewed on a number of topics of particular interest to new teachers.

Independent schools are mission-driven institutions, and often a school’s mission is best articulated and embodied by the Head of School. As part of this Casenex series, five independent school Heads, representing diverse schools, were interviewed on a number of topics of particular interest to new teachers.

Choosing to teach in an independent school means becoming part of a community dedicated to a particular educational vision. Independent school teachers are typically drawn to a school’s philosophy and the community of children, families, and educators. Successful and happy independent school faculty members embrace a multitude of roles: teacher, coach, advisor, colleague, friend. Choosing to work in an independent school represents a decision to join a school culture in which adults strive together to support the education and growth of children, a school where one’s individual contributions can make a significant difference.



Teaching is impossible to master in the abstract; everyone requires actual students to learn the craft. New teachers are constantly learning, not only by a consolidating their content area knowledge through planning, instruction, and assessment; but also by developing a deep understanding of the many facets of an independent school. New teachers are constantly challenged to grow in many ways, but school leaders concur on some priorities for anyone entering this challenging and rewarding profession.



New teachers sometimes do not realize the positive effect they can quickly have on an established school. They might be concerned that they sometimes struggle to do their job well, particularly compared to senior colleagues with more experience. Of course any craft takes time to master, and for most new teachers the first year represents the steepest learning curve. What is not always immediately obvious is that capable, hardworking, enthusiastic new teachers are essential to a vibrant school.