My brother treated our dad to a swanky golf date for Dad’s 91st birthday. Upon checking in, they were assigned a wonderful caddy named Kyle. This was initially uncomfortable (neither had ever had a caddy before), but turned out to be an amazing experience.
Kyle’s only goal was to help my father and brother shine and enjoy the morning. I was along for the ride and keenly tuned in to his comments, which at first were solely focused on the course. Kyle knew it so well that he could point out what to aim for and share anything that might get in the way of success. After observing my dad and brother for a couple of holes, the content of his counsel shifted a bit. It wasn’t just focused on the goal and course anymore but included recommendations about what club to use or what habit might need tweaking. When my brother and dad listened, they saw immediate results.
The power of a good coach is huge. And I couldn’t help but think of the coaches we have in our buildings. If you have a chance to work with one, seize it. I have experienced this dynamic partnership as a coach and a coachee, and both have inspired and brought a spark of joy to this challenging job we do. As with Kyle, a coach wants to help us shine. They come equipped with experience, knowledge, tips, and tools to help us reach our goals. We can be blind to habits that get in our way. A coach can lead us into reflective conversations that help us improve our practice, student engagement, and learning.
They sometimes have extensive experience with curriculum and can point to the pitfalls or stumbling points in lessons. This reminds me of when I was frustrated with a new reading program our district adopted several years ago. I visited Gail’s school, and it was in her first-grade chairs that I learned about Daily 5. She became a coach to me. She is the one who showed me how to be a professional when engaging with materials. She had evaluated the reading level of each story in the curriculum and rearranged the order so they would increase in incremental levels instead of bouncing around. I realized how important it is that we be the experts and not assume that our expensive materials are the final authority on what is best for our students.
If there is a coach in your building, invite them in. If there isn’t one, ask a teacher you admire to partner with you. You can record lessons or just meet for coffee to chat about the course ahead. As teachers, we tend to be lifelong learners, continuously refining our practice. A good coach makes the journey even better.
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