The Example We Set #sol18
November 6, 2018
I had a different slice in my head on my drive to work this morning, scratching it out in the parking lot already filled with voters on this election day. However, a collaboration meeting, a phone call, morning duty, and then this adorable mouse entered my world. It wasn’t actually this mouse. The mouse in question was just a baby, terrified in the first grade hallway filled with six year olds beginning their day.
The first sighting actually happened before I made my way down to the door. This little mouse minding his own business in the quiet of the pre-day school when confronted by a six year old on the way to the rest room. He made his way to the hallway where I imagine the noise and activity paralyze him with fear. I found him there surrounded by screaming kiddos, all cute whiskers and long mousey tail. Here’s when, in the moment, 50 pairs of six year old searing eyes look to one and say what will you do now? So I found a drawer, I carefully scooped him up, and carried him to the woods near the side of the school. They were still watching me, as I slipped him from the drawer to the grass and questioning me when I returned inside.
Of course, I’m not sure what those six year olds were thinking this morning. Perhaps they saw problem solving, compassion, and a lack of fear. I wasn’t really thinking about being a particular way, just thinking about doing the right thing. Afterward, I thought about it as metaphor.
When things are difficult, whatever they might be, in our adoption of the new curriculum, in scheduling, in collaborating, in planning, I know eyes are watching me. In simple things, a we-are-all-working-for-the-kiddos and it’s-tricky-business bring us closer to consensus. Sometimes, the expanse seems wider and I have to wait for my actions, my calm, my consistency to show, not tell. No one needs a big old lecture from me about what’s right or what will work, they just need me to consistently chip away at things with them. To be helpful. To be a partner. To be trustworthy.
While I might have been the fixer with that little mousekin this morning, I really don’t want to be a fixer. Fixing doesn’t really work. Telling someone what they should do or making a problem go away won’t feed us for long so to speak.
So I’m coaching in the hard parts. I’ll be here when there isn’t agreement. I’ll stick with each of them, teachers and students, until we work it out.
I rode on a roller coaster many times in my own kids’ childhood so that they wouldn’t be afraid or see me be irrationally afraid of something. I’ve picked up spiders and bugs. I’ve stopped bleeding. I’ve driven to the emergency room. So I’m not leaving the side of these teachers and kids either.
The life of a coach. Gentle steps forward. Waiting. Listening. Waiting some more. Suggesting. Listening. Trying something. Suggesting again.
Baking some cookies. Saving a mouse. Finding a book. Being there and being here.
Perhaps they will see problem solving, compassion, and a lack of fear. I won’t really think about being a particular way, just think about doing the right thing for this moment.
Thank you this week to Tammy Mulligan, my coach, for being there and being here, for teaching me to talk in menus, for gentle reassurance, and strength. Read more amazing slices at twowritingteachers.org