Every Word, Every Person, Everyday #sol17
May 9, 2017
I usually post some sunny anecdote that puts me in a positive light and wraps coaching up in a neat package. The truth is that day after day there are a lot of tasks, a lot of humans, and frankly, a fair number of problems. I feel like my desk and my mind are an unfinished pile of ASAP to-dos. Assessment season is upon us and 35 days left of school make the urgency of the work take front and center on the burners. But I digress.
One morning last week, our superintendent sent out a yearly teacher appreciation email. He said we should highlight the amazing work that we have collectively done as we are a people who tend to focus on what hasn’t been accomplished yet. Yep, it’s not my accomplishments that keep me up at night, it’s those nagging what-ifs and so-should-haves. Which brings me to my not-my-best-moment slice.
Last week was full of tough moments in the way that most days can be, along with funny moments and honestly, some WOW that-was-awesome moments, but one moment is hanging on me this morning like my own personal dark cloud. In this season of assessments, my second grade intervention groups have taken the hit. In the past month I have seen them a handful of times. Last Monday was a rare day when everything lined up.
I was explaining to the group about why I hadn’t seen them and why I wouldn’t in the future. My head was clouded with the frustration of those words and thoughts when one of the students said, that’s great, I don’t want to see you. It’s boring to come here. I’m more sensitive than I seem. I sent him back to class. I told him if he didn’t want to be here, he could return to class. He was stunned. He back tracked. He said he didn’t mean it. I sent him anyway. He returned in a half hour, sent by his teacher to apologize. I was with another group and sent him away again. The next morning he came down before group and asked me, am I coming with you today? Of course, I said… if you want to. He returned and that was that. So why am I writing to you about it today?
Friday, I got it between the eyes from a teacher. She said you used to care about teachers, now you care about students. I was stunned then, but in the light of Tuesday, she’s partially right. I care about students. I wasn’t particularly caring to that second grader last week, but I care about students. Can I care without being caring?
Last week, I thought momentarily that I was helping that student to be kinder by showing him that his words affected me. I was wrong. What I should have been is receptive to his criticism, asking him to tell me more about that. So many things about that… I like to think I learn from my mistakes. I like to think I accept that I make mistakes. I hope that I try to break that mold of teacher in charge, quiet students.
What about the disquieting thought that it’s either/or caring about teachers or students? I probably do care about the students success more in some ways. I can be the bridge across teachers for some students. As our building faculty grows, it’s harder to be there for all of the teachers. I reach out to some. I let others come to me when they want. I generally let the student needs drive my collaboration with teachers. But that teachers words, you care about students more than teachers, will stick with me. I’ll be thinking about what that means for a long time.