Paying Attention to Everything

I have to admit, my blog has gone by the wayside this month.  I’ve made excuses… I’m busy, stressed, tired… and on top of that we’ve all taken turns with a cough and stomach flu at my house.  I’ve even tried giving myself the advice I would give to a stuck student: “Write about something you love!”.  I thought about the hearts that I would have students keep in their journals – full of things they love.  These were supposed to help prompt some writing.  To be honest, I’m a bit scattered and not even sure what to write about next.

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As an Instructional Coach at TVDSB, I’m not focused on one subject area.  For instance, We don’t have specific coaches for literacy, math or technology.  I’m partnering with teachers in Math, Language, French, Science, Social Studies, etc. from Kindergarten to Grade 8.  But I’m not complaining.  I really enjoy the diverse areas that I get to explore in any given week.  And it’s worth repeating that I am a co-learner.  I am building new knowledge as I collaborate and interact with other teachers, administrators, students, coaches, learning coordinators etc.  My day is full of rich conversations with other educators telling me about what is happening in their classrooms.  We problem solve together and try out new techniques and plan next steps.  Some even let me come in and experiment and try out something I’ve read or heard about in their classrooms.

You know that feeling of your head spinning after a great learning session?  I have that almost daily.  I’m paying attention to everything.  If there is one skill that I have gotten better at, it’s listening attentively.  My focus is sharp, but switches to so many different areas and tasks in a day.  In between, I’m making connections between so many different subject matters.  I’m synthesizing too.  What do I see and hear that are common threads in my daily work?  What themes and big ideas keep coming up?  Lately I find myself thinking about the following:

  • Helping students make their thinking visible (in all subjects!)
  • Moving from concrete examples, to models, to more abstract thinking…
  • Teaching students how to develop essential questions (it’s not easy)
  • Engagement & motivation
  • Emphasizing process over product (teaching kids to think!)
  • Meaningful technology integration (equity & coding is on my mind)
  • Different ways of documenting learning and what to do with this information (feedback & assessment driving learning)
  • The importance of teachers having choice in and driving their own learning opportunities
  • Reading and writing floats on a sea of talk… (in English and in French)
  • Leadership styles, creating vision and growth culture in our schools…
  • Etc!

And before I blog about any of these topics, I need to deepen my own understanding.  What do I need to learn?  Sometimes my blogs are inspired by the string of connected events will jump out at me in a given week – often prompted by a life experience or interaction that stands out.  I usually consult a book, blog, article that will push my thinking before writing.  Often, I find a quote that can express an idea more eloquently than I can.

Despite outward appearances, I’m a bit of an introvert.  I need a little quiet in my day to help me switch gears, absorb information and refocus.  Sometimes it’s in these quiet moments (like my drive between schools for instance) that it all comes together.  Often however, it’s during conversations with other teachers.  And sometimes a good blog will just hit me out of the blue and flow out of me easily.

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But for today, perhaps making a list of topics that are in my thoughts is all that I can do.  I’m hoping to unblock once I get some rest during the upcoming holidays.  And while this post is a bit rambly, I did write about something I love.  Because I love being an Instructional Coach.

And I was also given good advice by the person who first helped me get this blog set up in the first place.  It’s important to comment on the blogs of others.  Perhaps that is something I can handle in the meantime.

Have a great holiday…

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