After three months of teaching in my new district, I can honestly say that I have never regretted leaving the school that I spend the first six years of my teaching career. I love teaching in the elementary school that I attended as a child. I love taking my children to school with me each day. I love having a teaching partner that pushes me daily. I love the 28 third graders that I spend each day with.
The hardest part of my new job is life without a literacy coach. Pretty much every week during the first six years of my career I was coached. Each week my coach would visit my room for 30 minutes. The 30 minute visit would always be centered around a question that I had. After the visit, we would have 30 minutes to dialogue and reflect. Six years of this. Six years of having an unthreatening peer work with me to improve my practice. Six years of someone listening to me laugh, cry, complain, celebrate, and reflect.
Life without a literacy coach is harder than I ever imagined. I’m not going to lie; there were times when I wasn’t really looking forward to giving up my planning time to dialogue, but I always left feeling like I had someplace to go. Someplace to grow.
It wasn’t until I went to NCTE that I realized how much I missed having that constant and consistent learning. My teaching partner and I work great together, but that relationship is different from a coach.
In at time of high stakes evaluations, common core state standards (I refuse to capitalize them), and large class sizes-the role of a coach is more important than ever.
I’m not sure that I will ever have a literacy coach again. After three months, I’m finally beginning to figure out what it looks like for me to continue to grow like I did have a coach.
My plan to coach myself (with the help of others):
Read a professional book with my teaching partner
This was her idea. I brought back Ruth Ayers Celebrating Writers from NCTE. My teaching partner got real excited when I started telling her about it, and now we are going to read it together. Well, not exactly together, but at the same time.
More time on Twitter
I have felt pretty disconnected from Twitter the last three months. Most of my time there was responding to tweets I was tagged in, instead of contributing and joining conversations. I’ve been more involved the last week or so, and I feel so refreshed.
Presenting at Conferences
Presenting at conferences sure does make you learn something deeply. I’m hoping that presenting at the Michigan Reading Conference in March will help me dig deeper into the topics that I’m presenting on.
Life without a literacy coach is different. It is hard. Sometimes I feel a little bit like I’m on an island. I’m learning that if I want to become the teacher that I desire to be, I must take the learning into my own hands (with A LOT of help from my friends).