Start with the “Why”

Change is difficult. You want to get healthy; you need to change your eating and exercising habits. You want to earn more money; you need to change your position within your company or find a new job. You want to be happier, you reflect and change your lifestyle and mindset.  All of these situations take a lot of thought, energy, and effort to see to fruition. What is the difference between those changes that we conquer and those changes that seem to slip to the side? The key to sustained personal change is knowing your “why.”

I am in a time of monumental change.  I have lived in the world of secondary education  for 13 years.  I have lived on a step and lane salary scale, with the dates of each paycheck sent out before the start of a new year.  I have showed up at 7:00 am and knew that I technically could leave any time after 3:20 pm.  Life may look a lot different for me this year.  When reflecting on if this was the right step for me and my family, I began to reflect on my “why.” Why do I feel I need to stay in the world of instructional coaching?  Why is this going to be valuable to other districts?  I think it is important to share my “why.”

I started my teaching career ready to take on the world.  I was going to connect to each and every one of my students and I would try 100 different ways to reach them all if I had to.  I was creative with my approaches and while some worked fantastically others sent me  right back to the drawing board.  I would consult with fellow teachers about what was going on and inquire about solutions they had success with.  I would attend my once a year allotted conference and get incredibly fired up about all the amazing things I was going to do. I can reflect on that period in my career when I had more time, energy, and effort then I knew what to do with.  I think about how powerful an instructional coach would have been to help me in implementing new ideas and guiding me while I was trying to develop my own educator tool box.

About seven years into my career I hit a low.  I look back and cringe to think about how I ran my classroom.  My life was in a haze and my students had to deal with the fog I was in as I worksheeted them to death.  During this time period my husband and I had tried to start a family.  It was supposed to be the best time of our lives, but instead I lost myself as we experienced loss after loss. I began working with a fertility specialist that would pull me out of the classroom one to two times a week. At that point in my career I needed a coach.  I needed someone to help me feel supported, coach me through, and help me find ways to creatively keep my students engaged until I was able to find my way back. 

After two years in the darkness my husband and I welcomed our 1st daughter, Hadley.  Once again this is a turning point in a career.  I now had to balance being a new mom, a wife, and a high school English teacher.  I had a new energy in the classroom as I looked around and knew that I wanted each young adult in my class to get the experience that I wanted for my own child.  I also was running on 3-4 hours of sleep a night and using my prep and lunch time for pumping.  I can now think about how amazing would it have been to have a coach to bounce ideas off of and help guide me through setting some clear goals and pushing me to focus my improvement.

In each stage of my career I can clearly see how an instructional coach could have helped me to elevate my ability to engage my learners and get them to grow.  I believe that today’s educators need instructional coaches.  Education is changing.  We know that continuous workplace development is a necessity to continue to help teachers grow and develop.  We need partners to help support teachers to take risks within the classroom without the fear of getting knocked down on an evaluation.  We need facilitators to help bring collaboration across subject and grade levels.  The role of an instructional coach is critical in a school that wants to train, develop, and maintain quality teachers.


Embracing the Journey

It was about seven years ago that my husband convinced me that it was going to be a good idea to forgo the all inclusive resort with the ocean view for a two week trip across the United States.  We were to start from our home in Yorkville, Illinois and end in Portland, Oregon two weeks later.  That was it.  That was the game plan.  A car was rented and a train ticket was purchased to get us back to Illinois.  I saw the trip ending in disaster.

I lived in the world of a high school English teacher.  Each lesson was carefully crafted to hit my learning targets and differentiate for the learners in my classroom.  I had plans, back up plans, and plans to back up back up plans.  I liked to think I was “free and easy” but the reality was that I was a planner.  And then we took this trip.  And it wasn’t a disaster, in fact it  was just the vacation I needed to begin to realize that knowing the destination is important, but embracing the journey and taking it all in may be just as significant.

I currently feel like I did the day we left for our cross country adventure, ready to head out on a trip with no locked in day-to-day plans but a clear target of where we were going to get to.  As I head into the world of consulting, I am excited to take this risk of going out on my own.  I know that I am doing something I am passionate about. I know I am doing something that will allow me to continue to grow and develop as a learner and as an educator.  I know that I can make a difference for districts, schools, teachers, and students.

I also know that I am feeling a bit nervous. I like to have a day to day plan.  I like to work within structures that I understand. I know the school system; I am learning about consulting.  I know that I have a lot of ideas, dreams, and aspirations that I am sharing with the world and trying to trust that I have the ability to see them to fruition. I know that my family is supporting me as I take this risk with my career and I don’t want to let them down.

I am going to embrace this journey.  I will learn and grow from it.  I will rise to new challenges. I will get the job done.


Travel Picture