One of the challenges of my position is that I’m struggling to find ways to stay connected to the classroom. My job is to support teachers through professional learning opportunities, but if I’m not ever in the position to be in classrooms, how will I know what’s needed?
In addition, because of my new role, I am learning so much about teaching and learning! Through my access to professional learning courses and instructors and reading materials, PK-12, from my new subscriptions to the Marshall Memo, EdWeek, and Learning Forward, and as part of the new administrator induction program in the district, in just these few short weeks, I have become a much stronger teacher/leader. I have so many new ideas to bring back to the classroom and school levels.
So I have been looking for ways to become more closely connected with the classroom. I thought that new educators might be the place to start, and so I sat down with our new educator induction program and brainstormed what I might do to support new teachers. In the spirit of #ObserveMe, learning walks, and peer feedback, we imagined that I could support educators by being a partner on learning walks, videotaping their instruction, providing non-evaluative observations and feedback around a target strategy, or simply being an extra pair of hands in the classroom when a teacher wants to take a risk and try something different. I was so jazzed about all of this! I could be such a good learning buddy!
In the conversation, one of the group asked how we would incentivize this. I agreed–that makes sense. This is really vulnerable work, and perhaps not many educators would opt in to this sort of thing. But then, my colleague brought up something that actually had never crossed my mind. Yea, teachers might feel a little more comfortable doing this with a peer, but they might not be so ready to have the “Coordinator of Professional Learning” dropping in and observing.
I’m not just your friendly teacher down the hall ready to engage in some reciprocal feedback. I have a new fancy title, and an office down the hall from the superintendent. And while I know I’m small potatoes, and I know my intention lies solely in improving our craft, that’s perhaps not the perception others have of me. So what now? How do I craft relationships with educators across 10 schools, so that they know my core values, and want to engage in really sticky, important work with me? Please share!