2014 Epiphanies of a Learner/Math Coach
As my second year of Mathematics coaching draws to a close, it occurs to me I should follow my own advice and record some reflections.
These two years have been absolutely amazing in terms of professional growth. I have developed a new awareness of the realities of middle school classrooms, the challenges that teachers face, and possibilities for instruction. I am more familiar with different supports needed at different grade levels. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn along side the excellent educators in my division. Every time I work with a teacher I learn so much!
I have had a few epiphanies this year.
Relationships: Teaching is predicated on a relationship built between teacher and student. I’ve had the opportunity to observe in classrooms and watch students, and note their reaction to the teacher. I’ve also modeled lessons, and as a guest in the class I don’t have the background with students or trust that the classroom teacher has established. There is something very unique and intense in the interaction that occurs when students open up to learning from a teacher. Until they allow the door to open, the most effective, well trained teacher can not produce learning. Underneath everything is an unspoken permission from the student to allow us to help them learn. Teachers continually extend themselves emotionally, and it is a vulnerable undertaking and can be draining. No wonder our job is emotionally exhausting and we often need to withdraw on weekends and breaks to “recharge”.
We can study data and research effective practices, we can teach “teaching” but we cannot teach the relationship building that is the magic that allows teaching to happen.
No wonder our job is so personal, which is why we need to be very respectful of teachers practice while we encourage professional growth. When you challenge my teaching practice you are challenging who I am, because you cannot separate the task from the person. Teaching and forming relationships is intensely personal. If I am invested in my work, then you cannot challenge my practice without me taking it personally; there is no other way to take it.
Inspiring Administrators I have been very fortunate for two years to work with an amazing superintendent, Susan Maserek, who has created the strong program that is the essence of our math supports in GSSD. A summary of those programs is in a recent blog post, here: http://blogs.gssd.ca/csmith/2014/06/18/math-initiatives-at-gssd/
Susan has a gift for finding and building capacity in others. Many of us have experienced personal growth because Susan has motivated us to develop at higher levels. I have been very blessed to experience such a strong example of female leadership.
How I recharge and find balance:
Well, like everyone else I’m still dreaming of balance. Here are some of the things that restore me.