By Tanya Lewis, Karen Robb, and Dave Andrews, Butler Area SD Coaches
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Chinese Proverb
The Butler Area School District stepped into the world of instructional coaching by hiring three full time coaches in the Spring of 2019: Tanya Lewis in ELA, Karen Robb in Math, and Dave Andrews in Student Engagement. We all have been employed by the district as classroom teachers for many years and accepted these new positions, starting in May, with mixed emotions. We were beyond thrilled to embark on this new adventure, while at the same time saddened to leave our home in the classroom with the students that we loved so much.
When we first accepted the positions, we were given a blank slate with the opportunity to learn and design a plan and goals that would be most beneficial to meeting our district’s strategic plan. Together, we were able to create a plan with our mentor that would map out a path to begin our journey as instructional coaches. We took our very first steps in our coaching journey by traveling to each school in our district to meet with teachers and staff to introduce the new coaching team. One of the surreal moments was walking back into our home building no longer members of the everyday staff.
As we started in this new position, our days quickly changed from four walls and lesson plans to data, meetings, committees, data, meetings, reading research studies, meetings, catching up on math best practices, meetings, learning the ins and outs of the PBIS systems, meeting and planning with teachers, co-teaching with teachers, (oh and did we say meetings?!). One of the most challenging, yet exciting parts of our new jobs is the overwhelming response we have received from staff in all of the buildings. Time is a challenge as we become another resource for teachers as they continue to move their students.
These new positions have offered us numerous daily challenges, yet so many opportunities to grow personally and professionally. We now have the opportunity through working with teachers to help students throughout our district, not just in our own individual classrooms, and can already see the tremendous effect it is having on our staff.
We are unbelievably fortunate that we have a team in the three of us to ride through this new journey together, helping us to chart a new path for the Butler Area School District. As we embark on the rest of the year with our (now developed) map in hand, compass in our pockets, and partners by our sides, together we are ready to climb the mountains, explore the unknown, and pave the road to collaboration and success.