It has been quite a first semester this year for Monique and me. Monique started teaching Kindergarten. I visited her:) What an experience!
She is beyond amazing. You can’t all visit her at once (haha), but consider it one day–so worth your while. What a gift to those kids.
As for me, I’ve started consulting on my own full time on literacy with schools from all over. This new venture has kept me incredibly, excitedly, and pinch – myself busy. It has given me the gift of working with magical schools in the Middle East, Europe, and some parts of the U.S where I have never really visited, but now consider home. Check this photo out that I just received from my friends in Zurich yesterday.
And it has renewed my passion for leadership. Leadership around teachers and principals, but mostly coaches. In Zurich my new great friend, Keryn, selected literacy leaders from each grade to take charge of writing workshop. Let me tell you, they have. They are passionate. They meet often and work closely, and as one of my new favorite literacy leaders, Lucy says, “I am approximating!” So reflective and open and supportive to her team and her literacy colleagues. I learned so much from Keryn and her colleagues in that week in Zurich. She is a leader at that school. Here’s some things to know about Keryn:
- She’s a Kiwi (which means she is from New Zealand–not to be confused with Australia!)
- She has a close knit relationship with her principal
- She gets things done
- She is not afraid to do hard things or say hard things
- She is flexible
- She is a leader…she guides, she takes charge, and she gives direction
This last point matters. I arrived and did my thing. You know, I gave a mini workshop on what matters most around the teaching of writing. And there was some resistance. No surprise. Often behind residence is fear. Unbeknownst to me, Keryn was emailing the principal and asking her to say something about the work publicly. Vicki, the principal, who will be forever talked about, stood up when I finished and said:
Thank you Christy for this wonderful session of learning. This is hard stuff. We all have to take a leap of faith and do this work the way it is intended to be done. We need to listen to Christy and do what she recommends for our kids. Our kids deserve this from us. So we are all going to take a leap of faith. Thank you, Christy.
Can you believe it? So let’s talk about leadership. We have a curriculum leader in Keryn who supports her principal’s curriculum knowledge, and the principal supports what Keryn is trying do with teachers. We have literacy leaders who Keryn is nurturing and supporting. They are spreading the passion for writing throughout the building, and giving Keryn joy in watching these teachers thrive. Everyone is taking the work of writing workshop and everyone is feeling proud and on a journey of long lasting learning. That’s a GREAT feeling as a teacher–one that everyone should experience.
Each district I have worked with this year is like Zurich–a true joy to be around. And just like Keryn’s teachers gave a passion for learning back to her, these districts are giving it back to me. I am working and busy and traveling and have not been home to Florida in a long time, but I have never been more fulfilled in my life and my work.
I am working with coaches in Waterford, CT, who have completed cycles of work and have worked with teachers they never thought would let them in their rooms. They are excited, and I am so proud of them. I work with coaches in Ocean City, Maryland and recently they taught in front of each other and coached each other and walked away feeling great. I am working with a coach in a CT Middle School who is one of the most beautiful, dedicated coaches I’ve seen. She has tough days, but she is so smart and so willing to do whatever she can for her teachers. I am working only with literacy leaders in Delaware. They are potential coaches one day. They are just starting out, and so positive.
Monique and I just presented at NCTE last month. It was amazing. We met lots of new people and reconnected with old friends. We told the coaches, “Hang in there. It takes at least three years to get good at this.” I think that is one of the biggest things I want you to take away from this post–three years! Give yourself time. It is not an easy job and YOU are too good to leave it. So hang in there!
Below is our power point from our presentation. Hope that you enjoy it:
I will end with this final insight, there are so many things to be grateful for, and this is the perfect time of year to do so. Step back and notice the work that YOU have done in your building or whoever you support, and be proud. Be proud of how you have affected those you work with. Because you have. Thank you to all coaches, literacy leaders, district leaders, and leaders of learning.
Celebrate learning, actually~
Christy & Monique