Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Coach, Support Thyself

Cranky boys @Disneyland 1962
My mother was a stay at home mom whose formal education was limited to high school, but her knowledge of literature and natural wisdom knew no bounds. I am the baby of six, with five older brothers and she was a master at wrangling us all. She passed away too soon, but I find myself constantly consulting her wisdom through the quotes, axioms, and sometimes downright odd phrases she would use to teach and support us. Today I found myself mumbling, “physician, heal thyself,” and I had to stop and smile. She always knew (knows?) how to make me look at myself with a critical but loving eye. And today, this bit of biblical wisdom is spot on!

Here is the thing with me. I love and value my  teachers and I am committed to mentoring and supporting them in this incredibly challenging work.  As an instructional coach, I strive to build resilience in my teachers. I encourage them to take time for themselves, reflect on the good things they are doing, and focus on one thing at a time. Perfection is the perfect goal for anyone who wants to burn out and leave education at the speed of light! Good advice, right? So today I stopped by a teacher’s class to commend her on the great work she was doing with a new technology tool. She rolled her eyes at me and said “I hate it.” I was shocked. “But why?” I asked.  “It went so well?” “Because I’m terrible with technology. It’s just too hard! And now I have to...”  She was truly upset following this success. To summarize, I did my coaching thing and helped her to celebrate her success and breathe in the moment. She was doing what many of us do, a sort of frenetic processing of her teacher life. This is what happens when we don’t take the time to focus our energies and efforts on a few goals, and then slow down to reflect and celebrate our successes. Oh yeah. And to breathe.

Because I often forget...

I felt pretty good about the support I had given as I got in my car and began the drive to my office, but soon my head was swimming with my next tasks. In addition to coaching 6th grade ELA and Tech. integration for 14 elementary schools,  I am in the middle of a  blended learning transition in my district.There are vendors to talk to, tools to create, staff development to consider, research to do,..., And then as my blood pressure began to go up and I literally noticed I was not taking full breaths, it hit me: “Physician, heal thyself.” But for our purposes, coach, support thyself. I give good advive, but can I follow it?

So coach Jenni sat down with...myself, and this is what we decided. I am doing too many things at once. I am not leaving room for reflective practice. I am not leaving space to celebrate the successes along the way. As much as I want to do everything right now and well, I am not superhuman. I have to prioritize. Prioritize, focus, reflect, breathe. That’s what I did today. I did not mark off all of the boxes on my task list today. But somehow I feel more productive and better equipped to face tomorrow than I have for some time. Thanks, Mom.

Patricia Jones aka Mum

Monday, May 15, 2017

Peer Pressure 

I have been telling myself I'll start blogging next week, or next month, or over the summer; sometime soon, when I have more time. Well, sometime soon just arrived, and I am shoving myself out into this new adventure by committing to a group of fellow bloggers. There is nothing quite like peer pressure to motivate a procrastinator like myself. But I am truly excited to join and learn from a group of tech coaches who share my passion for technology integration. Coaching can be a lonely business, and I am thrilled to connect and share with others who are doing similar work. So today, with the help of Katie Siemer at ISTE, I am taking my first baby step into the blogosphere. Thanks for the inspiration, Katie! And thanks for the badge! I am, all about the BLING! 
For more information about Blogging Buddies, check out Jennifer Hogan's "Compelled Blogger Tribe.