I started at a new school this year and I honestly haven’t been that engaged. That’s totally on me. The staff here are super friendly and fun to work with. I’ve only been met with support and care. I am very thankful for that.
Recently, the Instructional Coach at my school asked me to join him in a meeting with the sixth grade language arts teachers to help think through and get started planning their upcoming Nonfiction unit. I was thrilled. This was a chance for me to participate in something I really love to do and branch out professionally and socially.
There was a part of me that was a little nervous, though. I’ve had some rough experiences with other teachers at other schools where I have worked. I realize that there are aspects of people and relationships I can’t control, but I’m also aware enough of myself to know that I sometimes come across as being, what I’ll politely call, a know-it-all. I don’t want to be, but I find that my instinct is to say what people “should” be doing.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading for my current PhD program on organizational change and how we move and interact in order to make change. Many of these readings had me reflecting on my approach to leadership and guidance. I also started to think about how I try to enact change with my students. If they aren’t getting what I’m trying to tell them, I don’t just tell them again the same way and act like I don’t understand why they aren’t getting it. Obviously! I try to meet them where they are and build on their strengths to help push them to the next level. So I wasn’t going to go into this meeting saying “You all should be doing this thing this way so get going.”
It was refreshing to sit back and listen, actually. I brought in resources and asked questions and asked if I was understanding what they were saying. I made suggestions that connected back to their concerns and offered support in creating materials and finding resources that would get us to the point where they felt more comfortable with starting the unit. We talked about what we needed to know, what they wanted to teach, and how we could focus to get students there. We created a pre-assessment based on Seravallo’s Reading Comprehension Hierarchy (which I LOVE).
Most importantly, we laughed during the meeting. We saw each other as professionals but we also worked together as colleagues. I felt energized when I left the meeting and thought - I really should branch out more…
...so I marched up to the third floor, found a friendly face, and asked if I could join her for lunch the next day with her group of lunch buddies. (She said yes!)