The Power of Words: An Epiphany and an Apology

Coaches and mentors are a god spend. Literally. When we’re lost and despondent in the trees, they come in and help us see the beauty of the forest,  and give us guidance to make our way to a new vista.

But sometimes, when facing semester grading, on top of changing out the library, rethinking the writing lesson that bombed on Friday, along with the usual planning over the weekend, a teacher can look at that same coach and be a little resentful. Kinda like when grandparents come, play with the kids, and leave the parent stuck with the dirty diapers and messy house.

Saturday morning, my friend, former teaching colleague, now mentor coach, asked me if I wanted to go shopping this weekend,  I replied, I’d love to but some of us have grades to input. Oooo. I felt bad the second it came out of my mouth. She literally hung her head. I have been feeling bad ever since. As I write this I feel even worse. No excuses. Yeah, I hate report cards but my words were inexcusable.

This same coach on Friday led one of our new teachers to an epiphany that reached me.  This new teacher has been complaining for weeks that her students weren’t doing enough in writing. She’d come to the lunch room saying, I just don’t know what to do, he just sat there and did nothing! I ‘d say something like, hmmm, and think, yeah that’s how it goes sometimes. No sage words came to mind. But my friend, her coach came to her with these words – it’s not what they are doing right now, it’s what they are going to do. Words that lifted this new teacher to hope and understanding. Words that helped me see a little light in the writing work I was trying to accomplish with my students. These words lifted. Oh the power of words.

I am sorry, my friend.  Your work is powerful and important.  It’s work that helps our most fragile teachers in ways that are immeasurable. Work that reaches beyond those new teachers as they share their insights and successes with us who have been around a little longer, but still have those same problems.