#Slice2013 - 10 of 31

Before I entered the wide world of public school education, I taught at a small private school. I started out as a PreK teacher, bounced over to teaching the Music and Movement section of the day, moved on to serving as the Assistant Director and After School Coordinator, and several years later, found myself as the Director of the school.

I helped grow our small school from preschool to a full K-5 program. We were small, but happy. The teachers were a tightly knit team. We had a sense of togetherness and shared pride in what we accomplished. I loved working with our teachers; helping them solve problems with curriculum, finding opportunities to supplement our limited technology experiences, and working with them through student concerns gave me a strong sense of accomplishment.

Six years ago, I left that world and began teaching 4th grade in public school. It was an eye-opening experience. I'll never forget how I felt as state testing neared, realizing that it really was as stressful as so many people described. The entire climate of the campus changed as we found ourselves just weeks away from "the test." I did my best to shove away the paranoia and my own deepening sense of dread, focusing on my learners and doing anything I could to empower them to feel strong and confident.

At the end of that first year, I found out about a position in our district called a "Instructional Coach." This position encompassed everything I had loved about being the director at the private school, with none of the budget and administrative red tape I had been so happy to leave behind. Applicants needed three years teaching experience in the district, so I tucked that idea into my pocket, and waited.

The year I was finally able to apply, the positions were dramatically cut. I was heart broken. I miss working with teachers as a coach. I miss offering resources and advice, modeling lessons and helping a teacher find his/her strengths and using them to grow. As a classroom teacher myself, I find it difficult to do this to the extent that I would like. And although I love my learners, and am passionate about the work we do together every day, I still feel that something is missing.

In my new district, there are more opportunities for positions like this. But the district is huge, and I haven't even had my foot in the door a full year. I'm a little fish in a very large pond. Throughout the year I've seen ways I could impact a difference, had numerous ideas for change and growth. From my spot in the classroom, I feel ineffective in this way. I offer suggestions, but don't have the time I would like to follow up and help out. And there's a fine line between being seen as helpful instead of snooty know-it-all - I often worry that my suggestions are seen as an edict of judgement, when my heart is simply coming from a love of innovation.

There is so much more I want to do, so much I have to share -- but for now, I'm trying to be content with my four walls. I'm trying to be at peace with the relationships I've created with my 37 young readers and writers, because I know that the work we do is important. I'm trying to be patient.

I know something else is coming.

I just don't know when.


  1. Reading your post hit very close to home! I am in my first year as an instructional coach, and lately I've been longing for the safety of my four walls. It sounds like you have a deep passion to effect systemic change, and I hope doors swing wide open for you soon. Thanks for sharing your longings with all of us in the blogosphere.

  2. Sounds like you have just the right attitude. You know the change is coming. And that it will come when it is supposed to come. That will happen. In the meantime, I hope you will use your blog, twitter, etc. to share some of your professional knowledge with the world.

  3. I know how you feel, as this is my second year in a a public school after 12 years in private schools. It can be a difficult transition, but it sounds like you are trying to be a positive influence on your students and your school. Good luck, and hopefully, an instructional coach position will come your way soon!

  4. Hi Kelly,
    Yours was the last slice I got to last night before I called it quits and as I opened my computer just now, here you are frozen in time. I loved reading about your teaching career. I went the conventional route of getting a classroom, staying in it... moving...getting another one... retiring.. and then the variety kicked in...
    But your story is rich in decision making and change...
    Thanks for this rich slice,