As we get into the swing of a new school year, we re-blog a post from Taylor Ewy who reminds us that remaining coachable allows us to grow in our craft as teachers - a good reminder for teachers at all grade and experience levels.
My four days of leading a single class in my mentor teacher’s classroom have passed and with it a notebook with nine pages (front and back) filled with advice from my mentor teacher, a lengthy letter from my professor, a 50-minute video of my last day of teaching, and a two-page self-reflection over the process. Every day my mentor teacher gave me a few points to focus on for the next day:
Day 1: lesson pacing, total participation techniques
Day 2: attention signals, timers, transitions, total participation techniques, authority figure vs facilitator, andhaving humor (I should probably smile more…)
Day 3: transitions, sharing the “why” for each activity with students
Day 4: building student confidence, sharing the “why” for each activity with students
My mentor teacher is generous in her critique and praise of my teaching and lesson planning. I know I am incredibly lucky to have a mentor teacher who knows how to deliver advice, who offers any critique to be up for conversation, and who is so obviously delighted to see me succeed. David Cutler in “Why New Teachers Need Mentors” shares that new teachers need a confidant, observer, and confidence builder. From day one, my mentor teacher has done her part as a confidant, observer, and confidence builder for me, but I don’t believe even she could mentor well someone who does not want to be mentored.
My part in the relationship with my mentor teacher has been about being coachable. What does it mean to be coachable? It’s about how you react to feedback, whether you perceive it to be negative or positive, and it’s something I try to work on every day. I’ll admit, it’s easier to remain coachable when my mentor teacher is who she is, but being coachable isn’t about taking all the advice you hear and immediately applying it. I believe remaining coachable is being open to ideas, knowing that whatever you’re doing now is not the best it could be (and possibly knowing it never could be), but perhaps the best you could do in that moment. One way you can get better is to allow someone else show you a new tool, perhaps show you how to use it, and then let them put it in your toolbox. I hope you try out the tool, but even if you don’t use it immediately, you never know when it’ll come in handy.
Every day I received feedback from my mentor teacher, I tried to make her suggestions something I worked on the next day. Looking at my list above, I see that “total participation techniques” stayed on the list from day one to day two. Really, the only reason they aren’t on day three is because I remembered halfway through the lesson to try something different. By day 4, I was trying to find excuses to give the tool a try, and I think it went well. At first when I saw “total participation techniques” on the list for day one and I thought to myself, “Oh I got that, I just didn’t have a good opportunity to give a shot.” Seeing it on day two, I picked up that maybe I’m not remaining coachable and open to my mentor teacher’s critique. I’m so grateful I finally opened the chance for myself and my students to hear her out.
Having a mentor teacher who is a confidant, observer, and confidence builder has given me the opportunity to be coached well, but if I didn’t try to remain coachable throughout the process (and I do have to try), it would be wasted. I see myself trying to practice being coachable with my students one day, perhaps making it somewhat of a theme: remain open to possibility.
Find Taylor Ewy's original post here: http://mrsewyslittlewonders.blogspot.com/2016/11/r3-working-at-mentormentee-relationship.html