Sunday, December 7, 2008
Am I Paying It Forward?
As holiday break rapidly approaches, I find myself in a state of reflection. Perhaps, it is because we are at the half way point, and there is so much more I want to accomplish before this school year fades into the next. This morning, as I was listening to my pastor's sermon, I found myself making many connections to my school life. His message was about hanging out with the right crowd, surrounding yourself with people that challenge you to get better and think deeper, to assist you in raising the bar. Immediately, I connected with his message because at Chets I am surrounded by these individuals. They are continually reading professional literature, having collegial dialogue, trying cutting edge ideas, observing each other in action, thinking beyond what others may find possible, and producing remarkable results. Every time I think I know where the bar has been set, they have a new idea or share a new student product, and raise the bar yet again. To me, working among these passionate committed professionals is priceless.
That is not to say at times it is not difficult. This type of crowd is not the Yes Crowd. They are the crowd that challenges you, questions you, and has difficult conversations in order to make you think deeper and try new things. They will not allow you to stand idle. They will not tolerate the status quo. And, for that I am thankful. I have these people in my professional life--in fact, I have dozens of them.
I was also left wondering... Am I paying this forward to those teachers that I coach? Do I challenge them to read, reflect, and refine their work? Am I willing to have the difficult conversations so they think more deeply, even when it is not guaranteed to change their thinking? Am I taking steps to ensure that they are self-directed learners able to reflect on their practice? At the end of the year, will those I coach look back and say, "Suzanne helped me change my practice?"
I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks reflecting on these questions. I'm going to take a list of those I coach and go one by one through each of their names and ask myself what else I can do for them this year. In turn, I hope that my own mentors will do the same for me.