By Carol Adams.
Our ultimate work as educators is to improve student learning. We want to enhance student engagement and expand student achievement. So, if a coach’s responsibility is to change teachers in order to change students, what does it mean to change? What does it mean to lead for change?
Etymologically speaking, from mid-13th century, change means “to make (something) other than what it was, to cause to turn from one state to another;” Applied, our work is to transform the learning community into one that is deeply metacognitive, that holds a growth mindset, that is more mindful, insightful…that is more aware of self, other, and the context of learning.
To lead we are called “to go forth…to go before as guide.” Leading for change then could mean to go forth turning the world from one state to another. How do we best transform the world into one where students grow into citizens who are aware, critical and creative thinkers, who act from integrity and empathy, and who find their true purpose in the world? We go forth as living examples.
As we move into summer and have time to take a breath, let’s keep in mind the words of Shakespeare’s wise fool, Polonius, who reminds us (in Hamlet), “To thine own self be true.” How? Start with self-awareness. This is the transcendent skill that strengthens all others. Take time to reflect on what has become habitual in you. What values, strengths and challenges do you notice operating in your life right now? Which ones have slipped into your BlindSpot? Allow your new goals and intentions to flow out of your self awareness and new determination. Design new practices. Reinforce new patterns in yourself.
“And, it must follow, as the night the day” you then inspire and create space for greater self-awareness in the teachers with whom you work. When we all grow as reflective practitioners, we become more aware of what teachers need. We recognize when we are called to take on the role of unconditional partner who helps create awareness of the need for change; of motivator and strategist who inspires consistency; of mentor who helps strengthen expertise; or collaborator who encourages long-term growth and continued reflection. You might want to pick up Creating a Culture of Reflective Practice: Capacity-Building for Schoolwide Success as well as other books by Hall and Simeral for summer reading. Last month’s PLO was based on their work and guided us to take account of the four stages in the continuum of self-awareness: Unaware, Conscious, Action, Refinement. You could easily integrate this continuum into our BDA consultancy cycle.
May your summer be joyful, insightful and inspiring!
As we meet teachers where they are, they grow in their awareness of where their students are and together we lead for change.