Change is hard. Change is scary. Change normally brings growth. That’s what I’ve learned in my first semester as a coach for BetterLesson. I think this lesson certainly applies to me, but it is also what so many teachers have expressed this semester as many of them work to make instructional shifts, offer more student choice, and incorporate new technology. Growing is what I’ve been about all year. I even have the word on my office wall to remind me that I have a lot to learn. I have a tendency to be too critical of myself.
Today is my last day of this semester, and I’m reflecting on what I did well and what I still need to work on for next semester. There have been over 200 face-to-face meetings with teachers so far. Whoa!! I’m sure that many of the members of our great team have done many more than my number. I remember asking Afrika, my cool colleague who was the first to interview me, what a typical day is like. I’ve learned that, like teaching, there really isn’t a “typical” day. I meet with teachers. We brainstorm. We plan. We reflect. But every day is different. Every teacher is different. They are in every time zone from Alaska to Canada. They are in blended schools, Jewish schools, charter schools, public schools. They all have unique goals, challenges, and talents. They all have a different way in which they want to grow. Last week, a teacher said to me, “I’ll be really honest. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this BetterLesson PD. I didn’t know how a teacher in another state could figure out how to support me. I was so wrong. It’s one of the best things about this year. Having your support is awesome, and my year would be so different if I didn’t have you to talk to.” That made me feel like I’m building the types of relationships that make teachers feel valued and empowered. Another told me, “Next semester, I want to do a better job implementing the things we talk about. I want you to push me to be more accountable.” That’s a great goal for me moving forward.
While I love to plan things, and I’m such a to-do list girl, I never know exactly what I’ll need to have my best growth. I already know so many things I’ll change for next year. And yes, I have a Google doc titled “Ideas for 2018-2019.” I’m adding to it when I think of things. Ultimately, I’m so grateful that I decided not to fret much over being the new girl. I have Natalee to be new with me. I have Romain to coach me. I have the whole team who are so responsive to any questions I have or anything I need. I am amazed at the unique talents of this team and how well they all come together into a really comforting bowl of skill and support.
I think the biggest lesson of all from this semester is that the right people and the right circumstances will always collide to help us with our growth if we are open to change. Some of those people have been my students who remain in touch with me, and some of those people have been my teacher friends who check in to ask how my year is going. “Girl, you’re a teacher-teacher. A never gonna leave teacher. How are you doing in your new job?” I miss them so much. While I don’t see them every day, they too, are a part of my growth.
I made it through a whole semester, and I don’t think I harmed any teachers in the process. 😀
200 plus meetings down. 200 plus more meetings to GROW.