Thursday, January 12, 2017

to the coaches at my side

I haven't written much about coaching since I began this blog. I think the knowledge you get comes over time and comes with experience. I'm about halfway through my fourth year with the title of Literacy Coach and finally feel I have some perspective and ideas about this work to share with my PLN.

This year, I went back to the middle school and in addition to coaching, I'm also teaching an ELA class each day and a Challenge Based Learning class every other day. I have one block every day for coaching, and opposite of the the Challenge Based Learning class, I have another.

In our district, there are 8 literacy coaches, so you can see what a wonderful opportunity we all have for working together. We take turns meeting at different buildings, and then when we get together, we visit classrooms, do a little bit of professional development (lately it has been with a Webinar with the EdCollab, thanks for sharing that, Leah!), and then we talk about and maybe make suggest ideas about literacy related items around the district. For the first part of the year, I wasn't going to the coaching meetings and I was blaming it on not wanting to leave the two classes I was teaching. Then, in December, I decided I *had to get there, and I'm so glad I did, because a big lesson came from this.

Although it is my fourth year as a coach, I'm on year one of coaching at the middle school - it's their first year to have a part-time Literacy Coach on staff. For the better part of this year, I have been so anxious, thinking about the things that I'm not doing, or not doing well enough. And, I've been carrying all of that around by myself, because I wasn't making it a point to get to the coaches meetings.

Then in December, I got it. I have to see the other coaches in my district on a consistent basis. Even though my schedule is slightly different from the other coaches (since they are mostly at elementary schools) it is so helpful to meet with the people who do the same work as I do.

For the first four months of the school year this year, by not going to these meetings, I was basically on a little island by myself, feeling the stress this position creates and holding it all by myself. To which I finally found a key: you have to see your people on a regular basis.

Every time I see them, I am reminded that we share similar struggles, we are always there to support one another, and that yes, I can keep on. I don't know what I would do without this network of colleagues who I now call friends. So to the coaches at my side - the ones in my district I am lucky to see on a regular basis and others who I know via Twitter and this blog, thank you for sharing with me - ideas about coaching, ideas about teaching and learning, and even just an ear to listen. I am so thankful for you.

Which got me to thinking. I know there are really small districts out there where maybe there is only one coach. That could be a real challenge, not having a support system. Which is why I think twitter and our PLNs are so important. We have to connect with others who do similar work, for so many reasons, but in my opinion, mostly importantly to stay connected with peace of mind so we can be our best for the students we may be teaching every day and also for the colleagues we collaborate with in our buildings.

Coaches out there - what has your experience been? Any similar feelings on this topic? Please leave a comment to share, but also so that we can get connected!


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