I didn’t know exactly how to take the comment. You’re welcome? I’m sorry?
It’s not until I reread Joellen Killion’s piece in Teachers Teaching Teachers called, “Are You Coaching Heavy or Light?”that I got a different perspective. Killion wrote, “I am asking coaches to shift from being liked and appreciated to making a difference.”
In all honesty I want both: I want to be liked and appreciated AND I want to make a difference. I want to improve student learning and be invited out for beverages on Friday like any other staff member. But if I had to choose one? Deep breath. I’d rather make a difference.
Why? For years I’ve committed to transporting my three children to my school district. As long as I was spending that much time focused on education, I wanted my children to benefit. In one class I’d envision my inquisitive and accurate son in the boys I met. In another room, I’d picture both my wise, old-soul daughter and my social, organized youngest in the girls with whom I worked. I’d ask myself, “What do I want for my own children? What do all children deserve?” And I would go about collaborating with teachers to make changes to benefit all learners. When it took more time or patience or resources or communication than I thought I had in me, I’d picture my kids. It was worth it.
I’ve been mulling over what “being on” means. Word nerd that I am, I even looked it up to deepen my reflection. It said, “On: physical contact with, supported by a surface.” Many teachers aren’t accustomed to having the ongoing physical presence of another adult educator in the classroom. One teacher put it this way, “If there’s another adult in the room, I’m either being evaluated, being helped by a parent…or I’m in trouble.” But teachers who work with coaches aren’t in trouble, they are being supported to make the most of curriculum and instruction for improving learning for kids. And that standard of the isolated I-close-my-door-and-do-what-I-do teacher is changing.
I asked friends what they thought “being on” meant. They told me, “Being on means being prepared, being present, being at your best.” Aren’t these are the same things I expect of myself when I enter a colleague’s classroom? They are. So I’ve decided to embrace it. I’ve posted a note that sits next to my computer that says simply, “Be ON.”
What does “being on” mean to you?