Once upon a time there was a thought, an idea, a concept waiting to emerge. Three acquaintances became friends through the formation of a book manuscript! Yesterday they completed the second phase of the process!
Many, many years ago I had the opportunity to write a review for the back of a book (an older edition of The Basic Reading Inventory by Jerry Johns). I remember showing it to my dad when we were in a local book store. His comment, said in a loving manner, has stayed with me to this day.
“Let me know when your name is on the FRONT of a book.” – Dad
Well, dad, I am one step closer to that goal you indirectly set for me! And for a struggling student and VERY reluctant writer, today has even greater meaning. I’m grateful for the support of many on this journey!
- To Shira Leibowitz and Jessica Johnson – Thank you for the opportunity to walk down this path with you! I marvel at your writing and the fact that you wear your coaching hat as administrators each day! Your experiences provided the foundations of the manuscript!
- To ASCD – Thank you for believing in us and our concept! I look forward to working with you during the rest of this process.
- To my dog, Boji – Thank you for being at my side for the whole process. You reminded me to get up and move around often. Our walks or time spent in the back yard gave me time to think or just relax.
- And to my parents, sister, family and friends – Thank you for your support and encouragement along the way.
The process has been an amazing journey of collaboration. One tweet 5 years ago brought Jessica, Shira and I together. I was looking for a chat for instructional coaches with no luck. A simple inquiry tweet, to see if there was interest in a chat, quickly led to a response from Jessica and Shira. We connected right away through our love of coaching. #Educoach was born and not long after the concept to empower administrators to wear a coaching hat. To this day, the three of us have not been together face-to-face. Jessica and I met briefly at an ASCD conference while attending a session entitled “How to be an ASCD Author.” (I guess we took good notes!) But neither of us have met Shira in person. Our book writing time together has been through countless Google Docs (with Jessica keeping us organized), emails, and virtual calls. Our goal this year – to spend time together in person!
The first step of understanding the coaching process is to be open to coaching. Jessica and Shira have been wonderful coaches through this writing process. At times, I felt stuck or uncertain that I had anything to add since I “wasn’t an administrator.” They opened my eyes that coaching goes well beyond a position (something I knew, but needed to believe). To be coachable is a mindset. Coaching happens when two (or a small group or even full staff) join and embrace reflection and are open to learning and growing together.
Teaching has been a very private, closed door profession for a long time. Even in leadership roles (an administrator, director, teacher leader) we may feel vulnerable to have others not only watch how we work but guide our reflections. The process doesn’t always feel natural. It takes time to feel the true value of coaching. It isn’t going to happen in one cycle or even several. The benefits emerge over the long term, just as with any new learning.
If you have had the opportunity to have a coach in education or in any portion of your life, ask yourself a few questions:
- How have you grown as a teacher or school leader (or person) because of coaching?
- What are the benefits of your growth?
- How have your students or the teachers (or others around you) changed because of the coaching you received?
- Where would you be without coaching?
I know I have grown as a writer though this journey. I have worked to organize my random thoughts and I continue to focus on my word choice. I hope others will read our book in the future and realize how they can embrace coaching others, even if they serve as an evaluator. I know I am a stronger educator (and person), not only through this book writing process, but with several other coaching opportunities in my life. I now purposefully strive to find balance in my life. I set goals both personally and professionally. And I continually work to allocate time for tasks (with the bullet journal approach) to avoid procrastination. I’m not perfect at these, but I am mindful of them and when I slip up, I work to get back on track and often visit with one of the many coaches/mentors I have in my life.
I encourage you to find someone in your school, life or beyond to support your growth as an educator. Be open to coaching. It can unlock your potential and allow you to SHINE. If you are an instructional coach or administrator, you will be a more effective coach if you experience coaching first hand.