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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Reflecting on my year as an educator by the numbers

Inspired by my #PLN friend, Ryan O'Donnell (@creativeedtech), I spent last week looking back at my year in terms of numbers. I did not, by any means, take the time to quantify every single aspect of my 2015-16 year in education, but I did decide to look at major aspects of my job and see just how much I was able to accomplish this school year.

This was my 1st year as a teacher on special assignment for my district (or ToSA), and not only was it a new role for me, but it was also a new position in the district (elementary math/tech integration coach). I started the year uncertain of what to expect, and even my bosses couldn't quite define what it was that I would be doing, since it was all new to them as well. Sure, there were a couple of very specific job duties assigned to me from the start, but for the most part, everything was up in the air-- an exciting/scary position to be in! I like working a creative and self-directed environment, but how would I know if the direction that I was taking the position was the right one without a clear road map of where I was supposed to go?

After quite a few ups, and just as many downs, over the course of the school year, I ended the year unsure of how I had done. About a week before school officially let out, my boss called me in for my year-end review, and when he asked me about my successes and challenges, I couldn't quite pinpoint the successes. The challenges-- well, those I had no trouble speaking to. But naming my successes from the year were a struggle-- had I met any of my goals? Did I really have a grasp on what my goals even were? And then he asked the dreaded "what's your elevator speech" question... and even though I had spent several sessions with our "coach for the coaches", Al Gonzales, trying to figure this out, I still wasn't happy with the current version.

However, after analyzing my year by the numbers, I felt much more successful in the work I had done in my first year as an instructional coach. Maybe it's the math coach in me that needed this quantified look at the year in order to really understand what type of impact I had in my district... In any case, looking at the numbers reminded me that the small successes are just as important as the system-changing, large-scale ones. My "coach for the coaches" had me pegged early in the year-- he told me that I was hyper-focused on making big change, on revolutionizing the face of education, and that that was a good thing, but that I shouldn't lose sight of the small impacts, either. Losing sight of the small successes leaves you frustrated. It's important to also celebrate the baby steps taken.

Looking at my numbers for this year helped me to focus on those smaller successes, that are ultimately leading toward greater change. My favorite achievement-- working with 106 unique educators this year-- many more than I had realized! And no, not all of those sessions resulted in dramatic changes. But even getting face time with that many teachers in my first year as a ToSA means that teachers do want to change the way we're doing things, and just that desire to change means that we are, at least, on our way. And that is a much larger success this year than I could have imagined.

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