In my second year as a literacy coach at a new school, I am learning the cycles of emotions that teachers go through. Assessment periods, report cards, and parent conferences are high stress times. Naturally, there is an extra sense of urgency and preparedness necessary for all of these periods of time. It is during these high stress times that I find the joy harder to spot. I also find myself wondering, does my role and work with teachers add more stress to their already busy lives?
This past January, coming off of parent conferences in December followed by the frenzy and excitement of the holiday break. I found myself wondering if the stress levels would ever come down. I was working in a cycle with our second grade team, focusing mostly on small group instruction. While in a second grade classroom, coaching a teacher through a series of small group reading sessions, I watched as she executed her well laid plans, stopping to get ask questions or check in with me along the way. The entire time, there was a smile on her face as she coached kids in reading their books as if they were the characters or using post-its to mark evidence across a text that showed a particular trait. The students in each group matched her enthusiasm. The work was purposeful and matched directly to what the teacher knew these kids needed. The students and were highly engaged-rather than the dreaded compliant.
As the kids were transitioning to partner reading, the teacher sat for a minute, with what I thought was a look of accomplishment on her face. I waited to see what she would say, holding my breath. Teachers can be so critical of themselves. I hoped she would have recognized the joy the students had exuded as she challenged them and pushed their thinking. After a few moments, she turned to me and said, “That was fun,” as she sank back in her chair. I let out a sigh of relief. This is what I had been waiting for. This is what teaching and learning is supposed to feel like.
I left school that Friday, catching my principal on the way out. “I’m leaving on a high,” I said. “There are good things happening here.”