And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
— Rainer Maria Rilke
For past year, I have been on an incredible journey meeting readers of Thrive from all over the country. When I wrote the book, I could not have imagined the response that it has received. Now that I have met so many of Thrive’s readers, I can honestly say that this work belongs to all the teachers who have made it their own: the teacher in Missouri who said that she is now working to bring her students’ work to new audiences because of Thrive; the teacher in Wisconsin who quietly told me that he’s ready to reimagine his classroom practice because he knows what’s been happening is not helping his students; the teacher from Kentucky who sent me a Facebook message to say that reading this book kept her from quitting her job after Christmas break; the educators who have started book study groups for Thrive and designed professional development work around it. As I wrote in the book, I am humbled to be on this journey with you all.
Now, I’d like to invite you to join me on the next stage of my journey.
In July, I will join the Gates Foundation for a two-year assignment as a Teaching Fellow. I am excited about this change, which will give me opportunities to bring the ideas I wrote about in Thrive and the lessons I’ve learned from all of you to more educators, as well as to partners who are in a position to help teachers to excel and thrive in the profession.
As exciting as this change is, it is bittersweet. For the past four years, I have had an amazing opportunity to work alongside brilliant and inspiring educators at Science Leadership Academy. The lessons I have learned from Chris Lehmann and the faculty and students at SLA will stay with me always. I am better prepared to envision the type of education all of our students need because I had a chance to teach in this incredible environment. I have also been blessed to have spent four years with my advisory students and their families, and I am grateful for the ways in which they have welcomed me into their lives. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for each of my soon-to-be-graduated advisees.
In my new role at the Gates Foundation, I’ll take the heartbeat of the work I learned to love at SLA with me. I’ll have the chance to carry the conversation about excellence in teaching and learning that began at SLA and grew through the publication of Thrive, to teachers all over the country. I’ll be a voice for teachers, raising issues that everyone is thinking about but no one is talking about. I’ll help build local and national networks to help teachers learn with and from each other. I’ll be celebrating and recognizing teachers, visiting classrooms to observe and support the excellent work with students.
I’ll also have a new opportunity: the chance to help inform the foundation’s decisions about funding and policies. And I’ll be doing it all with the perspective of someone who has gotten up every school-day morning for the past decade to teach the students of Philadelphia, someone who has heard from so many teachers about their stories and struggles. I will do my best to carry your voices and experiences with me in the work ahead.
As I make this transition in my life, I’ll continue to share my thinking at meenoorami.org and to keep the conversation going via Twitter (@meenoorami). I’ll also continue present and speak at various conferences and events. I hope that you’ll follow my adventures and stay connected. The importance of your role in my life—as mentors, as friends, as colleagues—cannot be overstated. I need to hear from you now more than ever.
Of course, there’s a level of uncertainty in all of this. All change is hard, but I am moving forward with a heart filled with gratitude and a mind open to new questions. I’ll keep the poet Rilke’s words close by in the coming months, as I live the questions now.