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Changing of the Guard

posted: 8.14.13 by Barclay Barrios

I wanted to take a moment to say goodbye to my assistant for the last four years, Mike Shier, who’s off to a creative writing PhD program this fall.  I’ll take this chance to welcome my new assistant Scott Rachesky too.

Though I’m sure you’re out there, I can’t imagine a WPA running a writing program by her or himself.  Just the amount of paperwork alone has been rising steadily each year.  And scheduling nearly one hundred teachers remains a challenging if at times frustrating exercise in logic games (if I move Teacher X to class A, then I can move Teacher Y to Class B but only if Teacher Z is willing to take on class C).  My assistant is more than a workhorse.  My assistant keeps me sane.

Moving assistants then is always challenging, and not just because of missing old dynamics while establishing new ones.  Rather, it’s the fact that so much lore resides with my assistant—not just inside jokes and memories of harrowing times but an ingrained knowledge of how things work and how to make them work when they (as usual) don’t work.

I know there’s a body of literature out there on teaching lore but I wonder if we’ve thought much about administrative lore.  It exists, it’s invaluable, and when you change assistants every 3-4 years it has to be constantly passed on, recreated, and renewed.

So let it begin.

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