Last August, I started a new position. Still working in our district, I moved from being a special education teacher to our district's Writing and Social Studies Coordinator. My new position involves not only managing the curriculum, but also coaching teachers. I have been thinking about what I have learned, what I wish I had known, and what I want to improve.
I am not able to rank order these bullets, but I did try to start with some of the more important ones to me. Over the course of 2012-2013, I have learned:
- About the adult change process. Even though we studied it and talked about it, classroom conversations do not have the same learning power as real world experience. Just as it is with students, the following adage is true with teachers: tell me and I forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand. I have tried to plan and improve my ability to involve teachers in planning for the changes that are so important in education at this time. I still have been caught trying to implement changes too quickly, and that definitely causes the forward momentum to slow WAY down.
- How important it is to think about all of the ramifications of what might initially seem like a small change or decision. I think that the decision we made to change units around in the second grade curriculum calendar was a perfect example of how when you think that you have thought of everything, you haven’t. I have tried since then to be more thorough about my thought processes, making sure to move more slowly when I am feeling like I should be hurrying. One of my professors had said that whenever he felt rushed, he slowed down--important words to live by across many domains, I would say.
- How many i’s and t’s there are to dot and cross when implementing a seemingly small change and how many questions will come up when they are not. Aren't ripples powerful?
- To read and re-read and think and re-think about all of the communications that I have with teachers. How busy are teachers at a given point? Will they have time to read and internalize? Will they understand? Is there a history that I should find about first? I am working to always here that inner voice asking me “how will this help teachers?” whenever I am thinking about sending anything.
- About coaching cycles and best strategies for developing trust and openness from teachers so that I can help to make a difference in the learning experiences for students.
I wish that I had known that:
- Almost everything takes longer than you think it will.
- Relationships are the most important aspect of coaching.
- Not everyone will ever be happy.
- The more that you do, the more there is to do.
- Knowing, being able to state, and remaining true to what you believe is necessary in order to maintain focus.
- There would be times of loneliness as a not-quite administrator and not-quite teacher.
- There would be daily questions that I would not be able to answer.
Moving forward, my goals are to:
- Continue to support teachers as they learn about the Common Core and the implications for their instruction
- Continue to learn about the SBAC as it continues to develop and share that information with teachers through professional development, strategic conversations, meetings, and coaching.
- Develop and strengthen the communication and collaboration throughout our district. The line that Michael Fullan quotes from Jack Welch, “if only my company knew what my company knows” resonates with me. We have such stellar practices happening in our classrooms that should be celebrated, shared and copied.
- Inspire teachers to use technology throughout their instruction and to develop global connections wherever possible.
- Inspire a sense of purpose for the students in our district. I believe so strongly that students (no- all people) will surpass expectations when they believe in their work and feel that their work matters.
I am incredibly grateful to my virtual friends out there. Thank you to all of you who have encouraged me with comments and tweets that have made me feel that my work has mattered this year. I hope that I have been half as inspirational to some of you as many of you have been to me.
Enjoy your weeks,