Pam Chavez, Colorado Springs, CO firstname.lastname@example.org
Pssst…Can I share a little thought with you? At this time of the year, the best three things about working in education just may be June, July and August! Joking aside, as I finish my first year as a math coach, I would like to reflect on my transition from being a teacher to a support person, and how investing in coaching has been a benefit for me personally and for the teachers I have had the opportunity to partner with this year.
I want to state emphatically that I loved being a math teacher! First, I loved working with kids. Second, I welcomed each opportunity to try to make a difference in the life of even just one of my students. Third, I cherished the chance to grow alongside my students and my colleagues. Now, as I embark on this new career where my life still revolves around a school calendar rather than the conventional calendar, I find that being a coach offers the same benefits as being a teacher, but with a change in my perspective of the classroom and its players. I find that I am definitely growing as a coach with each teacher I am fortunate to work alongside, and I am seeing growth in the teachers as well. I still get to make a difference at the schools where I am assigned, by impacting teachers, and I still get to work with kids.
During my first assignment as a support person, I was worried that my coaching toolkit was a little too sparse. I thought I would need more tools to help the teachers build upon their lessons. Instead I have begun to realize I just need to share the tools I have gathered from teaching the CPM curriculum, attending the Summer Leadership Institutes and Coaching Clinics, and from those I have been blessed to coach with. I simply offer what I might have done in a given situation or what I did when teaching that particular lesson. I now know there is no magic tool needed!
I have been fortunate to collaborate with the coaching cadre members this year who share their insights into how a coach might support teachers to build good lessons. Much of the focus this year has been on the importance of intentionally planning lessons. As coaches, we have discussed the key is to ask guiding questions such as:
- What mathematics is being learned?
- Why is it important?
- How does it relate to what has already been learned?
- Where are these mathematical ideas going?
With this type of intentional planning, I witnessed first hand how the teachers I worked with were: able to link prior academic learning with the new learning more effectively, empowered to teach the CPM curriculum with more fidelity, and better able to make more informed, real-time adjustments while teaching the lesson.
You might be asking why I wanted to become a CPM coach. I had to weigh the pros and cons, and decided this was a chance to give back to a profession that I love and care about. I have a chance to meet many incredible colleagues who just want the best for their students. A few other points I considered when first entertaining thoughts of becoming a coach were that I will not have to deal with parents, grade papers, or stress during state testing time.
More importantly, towards the end of the coaching cycles, the teachers I was coaching conveyed that they felt our time spent together was both productive and meaningful. They were grateful for all of the benefits that being a CPM teacher affords them (workshops, conferences, coaching, etc.). It was exciting to know I had a part in each teacher’s professional growth, and knowing that each teacher I helped, then improved the lives of many, many students. We were sad to see that our time working together had come to an end. I know that these teachers will continue to learn and improve and I am ready to work with new teachers next year. I loved being a math teacher, but I think I will love being a math coach just as much.
Pssst, can I share one final thought? I still get to celebrate snow days!