I have been fortunate to work with some amazing educators in my career. In recent years many of those have come through online collaboration and connections via Twitter or other social media. Those interactions have formed me into the educator I am today. Colleagues were there to support me when I needed it, but more importantly to challenge me when I wasn't measuring up. They pushed me to want to do more and be better. I am by no means an exemplary educator, who did extraordinary things with my students. I am someone who has that as a goal but isn't there YET. I think there are a lot of teachers who aren't there yet. These are the individuals we need to support and provide guidance in their journey.
In my new role I am fortunate to be invited into teachers' classrooms and assist in both planning and execution of lessons. This for some is difficult because they are vulnerable. They know there is another set of eyes in the room making note of what happened, or in some cases didn't happen. This in my opinion is a good thing. I used to invite others into my classroom. It leads to great conversation and growth if both parties approach it this way.
They're not there YET moments!
When I am in classrooms, I sometimes see or hear things that make me cringe- like "You need to do this because it is worth a lot of points." I cringe because I used to say that early in my career. It was how I was taught and taught to teach. I used phrases like that and I take notice of it because I once was that teacher trying to do their best to get kids to buy in, to connect, and accomplish the goals. I now know points and grades don't motivate students, in fact I have had some of the most amazing products and learning experiences happen when there were no grades assigned. I also take notice because I realize our young teachers are still being taught this way and they need help breaking away from those traditional methods to truly unlock their own potential of that of their students. They are on the cusp of greatness, they just aren't there YET! Our conversations are a way to help unlock this potential and we both learn from the conversation.
When observing areas where teachers aren't there yet, I approach it with my coaching hat. Meaning I am there to help them grow and move forward, not judging them. We can all do better and most of us are aware of that fact. All teachers need to be encouraged and shown a reason for making that growth and changing because let's face it change is hard.
The Call to Action!
How do you support your colleagues? How do you help them grow and prosper?
We all have opportunities to help other teachers whether it be those in our own building or connections made online, we have the chance to make positive change. Each of us has the potential to make a positive impact on those around us by doing some simple and some difficult things.
First the simple things:
The Difficult things
As I was finalizing this post, I came across this challenge on Twitter from two amazing Admins, Shelly Burgess and Beth Houf - LeadLAP Challenges This is one in a series of challenges for Leaders to embark on creating a positive school culture. I love this week's challenge of visiting other teachers' classrooms. During our observation cycle we were expected to get into other teachers' rooms to observe. This was a great experience because I got to see great teaching. It gave me great insights into how to connect content and to build relationships with kids. I saw a lot of different content areas and many different teaching styles. I would encourage you whether classroom teacher, or admin to take on these challenges. Visit classrooms, see what is happening and start conversations to learn and grow together.