Sunday, June 12, 2016

Reflections of a Two-Year Literacy Coach

Nearly two years ago, I sifted through years of teaching keepsakes, wiped away the slow trickle of tears, boxed up some key memories in the form of photographs and writing (student and my own), and closed the door on my 12 years as a classroom teacher to start a new journey as a literacy coach in my home school district.  Closing the door on my life as a teacher was extremely painful.  It was so painful, in fact, that it felt like I was breaking up with a really good thing.  Breaking up was hard to do

These past two years have been quite a roller coaster of successes, defeats, lessons learned, ideas imagined, ideas revised, and connections made.  When I accepted the role of elementary literacy coach 24 months ago, I was just thrilled to have the opportunity to solely focus on my one true love in education- helping children love reading and writing.  This was my one goal. 

My goal was achieved.  

As a coach these past two years, I am not most proud of teaching model lessons, talking about our writing curriculum at staff meetings, or even helping shape district policy around literacy education.  Rather, I am most proud of the individual, daily conversations I had with teachers around how to best help our kiddos love reading.  In my mind (and in my heart), there is nothing more important in education.  It is my hope that these conversations will continue- not just with the new coach who will replace me, but with each other.  To be agents of change, teachers do not need to rely on a coach, a curriculum, an administrator, or a topdown policy.  Instead, they need to rely on themselves, collaborate with each other, and model the bravery to do what they believe is right.  Doing the right thing and speaking up is contagious.  It is my hope that more teachers will do this.  It is my hope that more teachers will inspire other teachers to do this.

My heart is now leading me back to the classroom.  I am a teacher.  This is who I am and who I will always be regardless of where my professional journey will take me.  Working as a coach in a little over a hundred classrooms over the past two years did not exactly change me. Rather, it strengthened and affirmed what I already believed.  

What I believe: 

  • We are teachers of individual children, not teachers of programs, initiatives, or set curriculums.  Kiddos should not be forced into fitting our program.  On the contrary, our programs must continually change to fit our kids' needs. 
  • All of us should honor other teachers and seek out their input- even when we disagree.  We all work hard.  We all started in this profession for a good reason.  We should try to understand each other more- especially when differences arise.  It's not about who's right and who's wrong. Instead, it's about coming to a common understanding to help all of our kids thrive!
  • As teachers, we must relentlessly hold tight to what we believe.  I believe children must choose their own books and independently read each day- no matter what.  No worksheet, tech activity-of-the-moment, or canned lesson will help or inspire a child as much as reading a loved book will.  

As I packed up my books and coach's desk, I was reminded of both why I became a coach and why I am heading back to the classroom.  This reminder came in the form of a message from one of my favorite authors on the inside cover of one of my favorite children's books, Thank You, Mr. Falker.  

Thank you, Patricia Polacco. Thank you to all of my fellow teachers.

Keep fighting the good fight, friends.  If we don't, who will? 

1 comment:

  1. What a heartfelt and meaningful post, Christina - your teaching heart is so evident. Welcome back into the classroom, teacher!


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