The 2019-2020 school year is coming to a close and WHAT A SCHOOL YEAR IT HAS BEEN. First and foremost please feel the STANDING OVATION I am sending each and everyone one of you. (I’d shake your hand or give you a hug – but that’s not social distancing.)
Watching educators around the globe continue to provide educational experiences for students through this pandemic has warmed my heart. You stepped up to the plate and hit a HOME RUN. You’ve learned new skills and you stayed the course! Your mind was on your students and their families! Thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!
Never before have we ended a school year without physically seeing our students for 8 or more weeks. And the future of what school will look like in the fall has yet to played out. In years past educators instinctively knew how to get ready for the start of a new year. I wish I had a crystal ball to give you the step-by-step guide for the 2020-2021 school year – especially how to coach in whatever our “new normal” will look and sound like. But I don’t.
One thing I’ve learned both in my 38 years in education and throughout the last 2+ months – mindset matters! Our mindset can set us on a path of greatness or break us down. I offer the following four possible tips to guide the end of this school year in order to prepare for the next – one that will go down in the history books! Feel free to adapt in your own way and please share your own ideas in the comment section!
REST and REJUVENATE
The 2019-2020 school year has either just ended for you or will end soon. The close of this year – the last 8 weeks for that matter – will be one we will never, ever forget. You deserve the time to sit back and REST and REJUVENATE. I know I find myself sitting on my deck in my favorite lounge chair enjoying the breeze and listening to the birds sing beautiful melodies. A good book, some writing or just quite time is soothes my soul. We must take care of ourselves. We have (and still are) experiencing trauma in our lives. Life changed abruptly without warning.
In December I lost my mom. I grieved (and still am) but slowly I started to move on to doing things in my life as I know my mother would want it that way. The pandemic experience has been totally different yet similar to the grief process. I do find myself moving on – but in a different manner. For me, moving on comes in the form of finding things to do around the house I enjoy – especially since I’ve cancelled a few summer trips. I started a larger garden, take walks and find myself crafting (or dreaming up projects) more. I have increased my writing, continue to add new whole food plant-based recipes to my repertoire and I am doing much more reading to fill my days. I am taking the time to simply have the needed “down time” to REST and REJUVENATE. Are all my days full of peaceful tranquility – heavens NO. But, I want to use this gift of time.
What are you doing for yourself? Remember – we need to put on our own oxygen masks before assisting others! I hope you can take a break from the never ending virtual calls and meetings. Find activities that bring you JOY! Take time for YOU this summer!
Instructional coaches are the kings and queens of reflection! We help others reflect on their practices and we are constantly reflecting on our own. If you still have contact with the teacher you serve – find ways to help them reflect on the past 8+ weeks of remote learning. What worked? What didn’t? What are they most proud of? What do they wish they could change?
One thing is probably certain – the start of the next school year is going to be different. We can’t even foresee how the whole year will play out. Will there be times of full school closure again? Who knows? Will we be teaching face-to-face or virtually? Will virtual work be synchronous and /or asynchronous. Reflecting on how the last 8+ months transpired will help in the unknown start of the 2020-2021 school year. What skills do teachers need? How can instructional coaches or school leaders assist, but not overwhelm?
Please take time to reflect on your instructional coaching practice. Some coaches were sought after during the remote teaching times, others felt isolated and everywhere in between. My best reflection and growth comes when I write. I keep a daily gratitude journal. When life is going well it is easy to list or write about things I’m grateful for. When life is a struggle, I have to force myself to seek the good even through the challenges. What is happening? What am I learning? What will I change? How am I responding to others? What am I doing to fuel both my personal and professional life?
Find time for your own reflection of both the 2019-2020 school year as a whole and the last 8 weeks or so. What are you most proud of? What were challenge areas? What are you grateful for – in the good and the challenges? What can you do through the summer months to prepare for the new year? I’d love to hear about your needs – don’t hesitate to reach out.
REVIEW (and LEARN)
I recently had the opportunity to visit with Instructional Coaching author Jim Knight. He shared my story of being a connected educator since the late 90’s on his blog. At one point I shared as a young child I had a favorite saying, “Every day the thing to do is learn a little something new.” In all the years since uttering that youthful sentiment, I find I still adhere to it as much now as I did then. But at my current level of maturity and experience, I’d revise my words to something even simpler – Being an effective educator means continuous learning. The exciting and boundless truth is that learning is academic and humanitarian, personal and public.
This summer is probably going to look different than others. I know I have already postponed a few vacations I was looking forward to. I foresee a lot more time on my hands to sit back and review past learning (especially in the area of instructional coaching) as well as deepen my coaching tool kit so that I can better help others COACH with CONFIDENCE. Since I foresee more of my work being virtual I want to learn new skills to facilitate new learning for others. I’ve been playing with a few ideas and will share in upcoming blog posts!
Personal learning is important too. As I mentioned earlier – my new venture will be gardening. I’ve always planted a few tomato and pepper plants, but this year tilled up a 13 x 13 area of my yard and will branch out with a new crops. I planted a wide variety vegetables as a trial and error garden. I’ll reflect on what grew well in the area and what didn’t in order to gain new understanding and prepare for the following year’s crop! Yes, I’m always reflecting – always have my coaching hat on!
I’m sure I’m not alone having a never ending stack of professional books to get too! I love learning new coaching skills so I can serve others better – especially in the current foggy educational landscape.
What do you want to learn more about? What past knowledge and skills will you review? How will you set everything in motion next year?
REINVENT and REDESIGN
Typically I probably would have ended the list here, but this year is so incredible different. Now is the time for each of us to reinvent the way we do business and school.
Teachers, coaches and administrators worked hard to shift teaching and learning to remote platforms or provided hands on materials for students. If I had that crystal ball I mentioned earlier, I have a feeling it would reveal a school setting different to what we’ve experience prior to this pandemic. Who really knows at this point? What will instructional coaching look like?
For me I see travel limited (yet I’d love come visit you) and more virtual offerings across the board. I’ve heard some schools are even halting travel to conferences for a while. I already have my virtual coaching processes formed – yet I’m building ways to reach more coaches, teachers and administrators. It is time to REINVENT and REDESIGN the way I do business! The same holds true for our schools. We now know we aren’t guaranteed a full school with our students and teachers in the building. Educational consultants are guaranteed live events to share their message. What do we need to do now during the summer months to ensure we are ready for the next stage in education?
School districts invest a lot of time and money into instructional coaching programs. Virtual coaching can help districts get the highest return on that investment!
My goal is to help Instructional Coaches to COACH with CONFIDENCE!
Personal billed and school district plans available for both onsite and virtual training and coaching. Let’s get started today!