I happened to look back at some old tweets today. Last year, around this time, I Tweeted a photo of my principal and assistant principal sitting together as they conferred with a kindergartener during one of our Teacher College staff developer days. There were so many parts of this Tweet that had me longing for that day- the mask-less faces, the proximity of humans sitting around a table, and the learning we were taking part in as a community. The caption was a quote from Lucy Calkins, about the greatest leaders being public learners.
I’ve always considered myself a learner. I came to our district 16 years ago and was given a job- not because of what I knew, but because I was reflective…or so my then principal had said. My demo lesson had bombed, I cried in the interview, and somehow, I still landed a job.
In the years since that crazy day, I’ve been learning. I seek out the people who seem to have the knowledge I know I need…and I observe, question, and try. This happens every day…even now… especially now.
Two days before we were scheduled to return to school after our dramatic departure last March, I found out that I would be teaching a section of first grade learners who would be fully remote. For two and a half hours a day, these students would be mine and I would teach reading, writing, phonics… and math!
The literacy part excited me. I’d finally have the chance to put into practice all of the work I’ve supported classroom teachers with in my role as a literacy coach. I had dreams of guided reading, grand conversations, and interactive writing. I could anticipate the challenges and make plans to tackle them head on.
Math is another story. I haven’t taught math in ten years…and the math I previously taught was not this “new” math with number bonds and an inquiry approach. “But if I read the teachers guide, will I understand this stuff?” I asked feeling lost and confused.
Needless to say, the various math coaches across our district have become my new best friends. We previously existed in parallel universes, without many reasons to intertwine. I am so grateful for these knowledgeable colleagues to give me tips and tricks as we navigate remote math instruction…or really just math instruction in general.
Last week, I told my first grade students that when math time comes around, I feel a little nervous. I let them know that I’m still learning and asking for help from my teacher friends. I thanked them for their patience and promised we’d find a math groove…
I know I’m not alone in feeling like a first year teacher all over again. So,here’s to publicly learning…more than ever before.