Today is my last day of work before Christmas break. I wanted to take a little time to reflect on an amazing semester that has been much different than any before in my teaching career.
This semester as a coach has been inspirational! I confess that prior to accepting this new position, I had been somewhat burned out after teaching for 15 years in the classroom. I felt stuck in a rut. But coaching has improved my perspective and teaching practice.
Coaching has invigorated me by allowing me to infuse new strategies into the classroom. It has helped me focus on my students and what works for them. It encouraged me to look back at my practices and consider how I can improve them, but also allowed me to see what was working well. I have the opportunity to celebrate my achievements and set goals regularly. I am also given ample time to attend professional development opportunities and do professional readings and research on teaching strategies and practices that have broadened my knowledge of our craft significantly.
Coaching has improved me as a person. I have been able to learn about what coaching is and really have had a chance to develop the necessary skills. The coaching skills benefit not just the coachees, but provide me with tools that improve my life as well. I have learned communication skills and listening techniques, and delved deeply into the psychology of learning and the science of how the brain works. I have grown as a person from meeting and working with all of our outgoing, helpful, passionate, and truly gifted coaches who provide ongoing support and empathy to what I am experiencing as a new coach.
Coaching has enriched me as a professional with the opportunities to develop my interpersonal skills and building relationships of “trust and rapport” with my colleagues. I feel a new sense of camaraderie working in this position, particularly when I am working with teachers on lesson planning. I feel their energy and renewed purpose when their ideas become clear to them. I see them becoming inspired and cannot help but be influenced by their enthusiasm and energy.
There is a certain serendipity in seeing all their work come together in a balanced and harmonic whole. Teachers seem to be at their best when they share anecdotes and parallels, ideas and memories relating to the units. These opportunities to share their ideas appears to have a mystical effect of transferring into their teaching, everything falling into place as if belonged there all along and they just needed the reflection of a mirror to see the whole canvas.
I have visited other teachers’ classrooms and learned much from having these coaching conversations, probably more than they have! I also have the unique chance to expand my repertoire by watching their lessons, classroom management techniques, wall decorations, organization, and bulletin boards that have invigorated my passion for teaching and learning as well.
Coaching has also challenged me in that I must balance all the activities of teaching with all those of coaching. I have the abundant blessing of having two wonderful bosses: one at the site level and one at the district level. We have worked to accommodate all of our needs and I was pleased to find that my principal has actually become my coach, observing a formal lesson and providing coaching and feedback, as well as assisting me in lesson planning. I have grown close to her in working on this new level and, indeed, I recall several years ago when she added a comment to my evaluation stating that she would really like to see me take on more of a leadership role. She saw a spark in me all those years ago that I have finally begun to kindle and now that passion is burning and catching on in all that I do.
My district level boss has become my meta coach who has aided me in a myriad of ways. He has recorded and reviewed videos with me, and helped me practice the coaching process with other colleagues in his office. He is calm and thoughtful and he wants to learn constantly as well. He is an exceptional coach yet continuously looks for ways to learn and improve through deep discussion and reflection, which is a habit that we can all adapt. He challenges us to take on responsibilities we may not have considered before and encourages us to think “out of the box” to solve problems. He leads us to the answers that lie within ourselves.
Another challenge that has become a blessing is the new roles I am expected to step into that I may not have tried before. I was nervous about teaching demo lessons, having people observing me, and offering PD by myself. But all of these experiences have created more confidence in me and allowed me to discover talents I never knew I had. One area of challenge to me is organization, which remains despite my efforts to change. I know I will always need to be cognizant of improving my organization, but I am getting better at managing my time and utilizing the time we have to research, create, and plan lessons.
In short, I have become happier and more fulfilled by serving as an instructional coach, and have come to love my job and colleagues more than ever. I look forward to further developing as a coach and mastering these techniques that are still so new and awkward, like a baby deer trying to stand on its wobbly legs.
What is ahead? So far, I have used this blog as an accountability tool to track my daily tasks and trips, but I have learned so much that I feel like it might be missing something. I may begin using it to blog my experiences and research as a coach. Perhaps if I recorded what I am learning, others may also learn something as well. I would love to have strategies on here, examples, tools, and other resources – perhaps videos! – for others to use in their own classes and coaching experiences.
Tasks Completed Today:
Coaching meeting with two coachees for lesson planning
Completed all grades and comments and submitted
Checked and replied to emails
Prepared for break
Hours: 8:30 – 3:45