The Story so Far: Learning to Live in the Gray

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As happens from time to time on this blog, I have been absent for a bit. This is in part because I took some time to be with family during a very sudden life change. (Rest assured all is well, but time time with my wife and daughter were restorative!) The absence is also in part to my new (and still pretty shiny) role as an instructional coach. While I had hopes that my Summer PD series would last longer than two posts, the reality is my opportunities to lead sessions with teachers were going to be limited this summer and for good reason. I have a good deal to learn. I am on a new team with new norms and new talents and skills that surround me. I am already in awe of the work my new colleagues do each day. They make it appear effortless. So, I have found myself learning to live in the gray this summer.

“Learning to live in the gray” has been my mantra the last two months. My new position comes with a few newfound freedoms and time where I am left to my own devices in a brand new world of living between the spaces of a district’s central office and various schoolhouses. Now, I became used to being left to my own devices as an academy coach, but by the time I became an academy coach, I already knew the school and had established relationships with teachers in the building. The gray starting that role was more of a haze of transparent white. I saw the direction I was headed. That’s not the case at the moment, but “the gray” I am currently enveloped in does not frighten or detour me; it simply puts me in an unfamiliar space for the first time in a long time.

The team I am working with is incredible, though. My boss is a visionary and my peers are rockstars who have welcomed me into their fold with open arms. I spend my days joining as many meetings as I can and being part of presentations and work with teachers when I can. The exception to this happened while at the GACTE conference earlier this week when one of my colleagues asked me to fill in for him during a lunch-and-learn session, so he could complete duties he needed to as a board member. I was in line grabbing lunch at the time, and in order to not be inconvenienced, I told him I would rather not. Sure, he found someone quickly to support what he needed, but I let my team member down and blew an opportunity to show my worth. My personality will not allow me to forgive myself quite yet. I still feel pretty awful even as I type this, but I am reminding myself this is an important lesson learned and a growth moment. Part of what makes this team so valuable and effective is each member jumps into any and every situation despite knowing all the answers or feeling comfortable, so when a sudden need arises, someone just fills the need. Period. For a reason still not quite certain to me, this norm of the team makes me uneasy but in the best way possible. I have already realized how much I will grow from working in this dynamic. I have history of wanting to take my time and to feel fully prepared, and I simply will not have that opportunity as often. This coming year I am excited to see how this new position stretches me, and what I learn about myself.

Quickly, before I wrap up this little personal update, one area I feel I fit immediately is within the landscape of running our group’s social media and press needs. I am excited to promote and grow our brand and celebrate what our teachers do. And to be clear, I have a direction I am headed; I know what my primary focus will be, and that makes the gray manageable. My hope is this blog will continue to celebrate literacy from all angles, but I will add the lens of literacy in spaces outside of the English classroom, which is more valuable than ever. I also plan to continue to highlight the amazing work of teachers and share reflective posts about leading professional development.

Here’s to a new school year, new perspectives, new challenges, and new growth. Let’s see where this year takes us!

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