Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reflective Conversations

The world of a coach, just like a teacher, gets busy on the first day of school and never slows down. "Is this your busy time of the year?" Is a question that always bewilders me, because truth be told, all 196 teacher days are a busy time of year. Something, I've come to believe only an educator can fully appreciate. Boarding a Lear jet on the first day of school depicts the typical momentum that begins on Day 1 and ends when the last bell has rung, the classroom is packed up, and we emerge on the other side for a blissful few uninterrupted weeks. Until, once again, the planning begins for the upcoming year, if it truly ever ended in the first place.

Hurling at mock speed, we often forget that a critical component of growing professionally is to reflect on our practice. Where have we been? Where are we going? Questions like these allow you to reflect, refocus, redefine, and reembrace your work. The answers certainly aren't fancy but get at the heart of strategic planning. For me, this type of reflection comes easily now, but in my early teaching years, it took a leader asking me these questions and listening attentively as I answered them.

This year, I'm trying this reflective practice with our new teachers. Each of them is meeting with me this week to answer these questions:
  • What are you most proud that you've accomplished so far this year?

  • What would you like to work on as you move into the second half of the year?

  • What do you need for me to do for you?
The reason for the conversations are two fold. First, I want new teachers to get in the habit of reflecting and second, I want to know, from their point of view, what they need to learn next. Each conversation has been intriguing. I've learned from them about their professional celebrations and their needs. The dialogue has captured a plan for me to move forward in supporting them. As we move into the new year, I'll be gathering some important content resources, setting up a couple of observations, demoing a few lessons, watching and giving written feedback, and teaching about wikis and Gizmos to name just a few things. What I like most about this process is that I am really getting to know each teacher better and I feel like I'll be able to meet their specific needs. This is definitely a practice I'll continue in the future. Stay tuned...

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