Living Up to a Name


A young woman whooshed past us as we exited the lobby of our hotel. Her high ponytail bobbed as she jogged to her car in the parking lot. As she pulled away we saw the circle of Jimmy John’s gourmet sandwiches in her window.

“Well, I guess what they say on their commercials is true,” my husband said.

Jimmy John’s Commercial

For the uninitiated, Jimmy John’s is a business that claims “freaky fast delivery” for their gourmet sandwiches. Seeing the worker hustling from her delivery back to the next sandwich order impressed me and made me think that maybe there is some truth to their advertising.

Flash forward to an initial meeting with a beginning-career teacher new to our district. “Rita” was instantly comfortable talking instruction and jumped right in with her concerns about a small group of readers in her room. We decided that when I was in the building the next day I’d pop in and observe these particular readers. This was when I saw her expression change.

“So, you need to know something about me. I’m a little worried about having you in the room while I’m teaching. I know you’ll just be here to support me, but it still makes me nervous. I worry about being judged and I’ve heard you are an exceptional teacher.”

She paused and I waited.

“And I’m just worried that you’re going to think I don’t know what I’m doing.”

I nodded and smiled, “Your concerns are completely understandable. I’ve heard the same thing from very confident veteran teachers. My role is all about improving student learning so I’m super focused on the kids and their growth. I can tell you that I won’t be judging you and your teaching, but more than my words, I hope my behavior speaks for itself.”

Each time I enter a classroom I expect what I say and do to align with my tag lines:

*All teachers deserve to work with a coach
*Trust, safety and good communication are foundational elements of coaching relationships
*Improving student learning is the beginning, middle and end of our coaching work

From the official website I read, “Jimmy John’s employees are the ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They want to be the best. They don’t mind doing whatever it takes to get the job done…Jimmy John’s wants only the best for the best.”

Thank you unknown Jimmy John’s employee with the ponytail for reminding me I want to be the best coach for the best students and their teachers.

What are your tag lines? How do they manifest in your life and work?

3 thoughts on “Living Up to a Name

  1. One of the most powerful lessons that a coach can model is being a learner. Nobody knows what to do in every single situation. The best thing that a coach can do is model how to problem-solve through challenging situations, making mistakes along the way.

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