We turn our eyes forward even as we consider the successes and challenges that are behind us. And with nearly every aspect of our profession undergoing transformation as new thinking structures, digital pathways, and instructional pedagogies are changing the landscape, we must embrace this year-end reflection with gusto and begin thinking about next year.
After we go to the beach, of course! :)
This year, I am looking back over my first year as a literacy coach and staff developer in my county. There have been wonderful opportunities for me to connect with teachers in so many school buildings and classrooms, and I have been able to sit at the table to share my ideas and offer my assistance with administrators and decision-makers. However, the days were not all easy or comfortable for me. In this position, I am nearly always seen as an outsider, and I have to work hard to establish trusting relationships. This, I found, is the single most important part of my job, because, without it, I cannot be effective.
This summer I will embrace the biggest and best opportunity so far! I was asked to work with a school to introduce writer's workshop across all grade levels this coming fall!!!! What!?! This is what I have been waiting for! This is the reason I wanted, sought, and accepted this position!!!
And now that I have this amazing chance to assist a talented faculty and visionary administrative team move towards best practices in writing for each and every student in their school....I'm a little scared! How can I enter into this partnership and advise these teachers in ways that will work? In ways that are manageable? In ways that support sustainable instruction? In ways that invite engagement and excitement? How can I build those relationships and create trust?
I have been presenting writer's workshop sessions for many years now. And, there have been enough positive outcomes as reported by teachers who attended these professional development offerings that I have confidence in my message. But, in all of those instances, teachers chose to attend. Teachers who were hungry for support in establishing writer's workshop made the decision to be there. The faculty at the school I will be working with in just a few short months, for the most part, will not be making this decision independently. That is a huge and critical factor as I think about how to do this work. How can I present such a comprehensive instructional initiative in ways that are inviting, engaging, and sustainable?
Fortunately, I know that there are already teachers in this building who are ready to do this work. I know that the administrative team has clarity of vision and holds strong beliefs in the efficacy and importance of supporting their teachers as we strengthen writing instruction for all students. I know that there is already at least one team that is brimming with agency and urgency to do this work. And, if there is one thing I have learned as a coach this year, it is that you maximize the reach of the relationships you build in schools and tap into the positive energy that already flows through the classrooms and hallways.
Building on those relationships, tapping into the positive energy, re-imaging how to share new practices to a veteran faculty...these are my starting points as I join the ranks of educators looking forward to a new year.
Hmmmm...I think I just got an idea. I will tuck it into my imagination where it can play for awhile. Meanwhile, I wish all of the educators out there a restful break, no matter how short or how long, so that you have time to refresh and re-imagine all of the good work that is ahead!