Thursday, December 14, 2017

Can you get me two minutes out of one?

During weeks like this, I am often reminded of a conversation I had with a friend of mine who, like me, is an instructional coach. We both agreed that we held a common fear of losing touch with what it feels like to be a classroom teacher. As a classroom teacher, I admit, that I would scoff at those who would try to give me advise on how to be more effective, or how to improve my practice especially if they had been separated from their classroom for any number of years. I would of course nod politely, while in my mind, scream thoughts of "if I could only get these hours back and give them to my kids!" My friend and I joked with each other that there has to be a statistical correlation between the number of years an administrator or support staff has been out of the classroom to the inverse effect it has on the reliability/believability/validity of the suggestions they offer. Sure things sound great on paper, and all manor of contingencies have been considered except one important, immutable, and unfailingly unpredictable factor: my students. So, yes, your research-based, best practice, pedagogically sound strategy or technique will get you published, but will it allow me to have greater access to the only thing that can improve scores with? Probable not.

By the way, the only thing, tried and true, 100% effective, that can improve scores in my opinion, if that is all you are in it for, is to have more time. Find a way for me to get two minutes out of one and I am all yours! When I was able to have more time with my kids, I could work miracles. In the precious and rare minutes that I was able to trade pieces of my soul for, I could open minds and clear confusion like Moses parting the Red Sea. All it took was a few extra minutes with my kids.

Believe me, when I approach a teacher with the latest and greatest technology app, or software, I won't sell it unless I can say, "Do you need more time? Well, this will improve the quality of the time you have and possibly give you more of it!" Sure there is disbelief, and even a struggle to comprehend to some degree. When I am able to sit down with a teacher and show them the magnificence of a really great tool that matches the outcome they want to see from their students, with the assurance that I am not going to abandon them once the meeting is over, I see a look, and I get a feeling that makes me know that I am fulfilling my purpose and honoring my vocation.

I know there will come a time when I finish talking to a teacher and they, like me many years ago, have the exact same thought as I did. That is just how it goes, but I hope to make the most convincing argument I can. At the end of the day, a teachers has to make a choice based on whats best for their kids. We have to trust in that.

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