When I started with the NEA in December, I had the idea of creating a website that would hopefully accomplish two things:
- Indirectly build relationships of trust with teachers to break down the barrier of apprehension
- Showcase teacher successes to break down the barrier of teacher isolation in the district
I am pleased to say that I feel we have been winning on both fronts... and to be completely honest, it's happening faster than I thought it would :D
It wasn't too long ago when I was a full-time classroom teacher, and I can still remember the reservation that I had when it came to sharing my classroom and resources with other people. It was a highly personal thing/place for me. I was the master of my own domain. I could post what I wanted on the walls, create my own lessons to meet my students' collective and individual needs, and I could teach my own units and lessons (once I was on a permanent teaching contract and not subject to evaluation). And... there is safety in that kind of a set up.
Keeping that in mind, I thought of what it would be like to have a stranger like me come into my classroom as a literacy coach to observe the proceedings of my own little world. I determined that it would be highly intimidating for me as the classroom teacher, which is why I figured the website would be a way of breaking down that barrier of apprehension. By coming into classrooms and sharing positive things that I observe, I can indirectly build relationships of trust by showcasing the awesome things I see in a non-threatening way. The hope is that the more I continue to observe quality literacy approaches and showcase them, the more comfort teachers will have with me coming into their rooms and observe their day-to-day activities.
The other aspect of this is the breaking down the barrier of isolation in the district. As a classroom teacher, there was safety in my own little world mainly because I stuck to myself and so did everybody else. We all had our own classrooms and did our own things, which really created a sense of isolation within the school - even the really small K-9 school that I taught at for the first six years of my teaching career! By sharing positive examples of literacy across the district here, it seems as though teachers are now able to see quality aspects of their peers' professional practice. So even though we are a small jurisdiction of five schools, we can start to get a feel for what's going on around us, glory in our collective and individual successes, and hopefully start opening up and sharing what we're doing by taking the Evidences of Literacy and applying them to our own teaching assignments.
The reason I say that I feel we are winning on both fronts is because of the response I am starting to get from teachers. As I'm out in the schools, I hear things like "Oh, I've been waiting to see you," or "I have some questions for you," or "Come check this out." Because of the positive response to things people are seeing and reading on the website, I get the impression that teachers are becoming increasingly comfortable with my presence in the schools and in their classrooms. I think that people are also getting excited about having their own practices showcased in a positive way.
From this point forward, I will continue to lay out the different indicators of success that I will be look for as I come around to different classrooms - with classroom artifacts being only the first. I will also continue to showcase examples of quality practice in the area of literacy, with the hope that the staff of the NEA embraces the sharing of the quality work and quality learning that is happening every single day here at the NEA.
So to all of you that I have worked with so far, kudos on a job well done! And for those I haven't seen yet, worry not for I will get there as soon as I can. And if you have something you'd like me to see, or something you'd like to share, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Good luck and happy learning everyone!