Monday, March 9, 2015

Finding your professional posse

     I am a very collaborative person. I am the seventh child in a family of nine, and having grown up on a baseball team means that I enjoy having people to learn and think alongside.

     That is one of the reasons why I love Twitter! There is such a great community of educators on Twitter who want to put themselves out there and learn alongside others.

     It is also why I love to be a literacy coach. I get to work with the most amazing teachers, students, and schools, and embrace new learning each and every day. In fact, I operate from the belief that I will learn something new every day, at work and at home. To that end, I have a group of individuals—my teaching posse—who I turn to when I have questions and ideas.

     That's right, a professional posse. People who help me when I am in need and who help me to grapple with the everyday struggles of teaching.

     When I am grappling with a struggling reader, I call Sally. She is my reading friend, the one I talk to about all things reading. When I am thinking about work with my client schools, I call Jaime. Jaime and I have never taught together, but people who have been in both of our classrooms remark on how similar our teaching is. She reminds me of what I value in teaching and helps me think through the particulars of being a coach to many different school communities.

     When I want to imagine a new adventure or talk with someone who knows what great teaching looks like, I call Bev: hers is an amazing classroom. She is the one I go to when I want to float an idea or be reminded of what matters most. She and I have recently created this blog where we can continue to develop and grow ideas together. When I want advice, especially from a leadership perspective, I call Ella. Ella was my principal when I taught in Tenafly, New Jersey, both a colleague and a mentor, the person who best knows my teaching. She gives me advice based on her own experience.

     Some of these women don't know each other, but they have one thing in common: me. They think with me and laugh with me and learn with me and commiserate with me and evolve with me and keep me the most engaged I can be in my learning.

     And this is my professional posse. What is most important is to remember who motivates and engages you as a teacher and who will be there with you to learn alongside as you grapple with the joys and complexities of teaching.

     And so, I highly recommend that you find your own professional posse! In doing so you might want to do the following:
     1. Identify the people in your teaching and learning life who motivate and engage you. Think about what you love about this learning relationship and what it has to offer you.

     2. Name what that person offers you and what you have to offer that person.

     3. Look for people outside your school or organization community to learn with and from. You push your thinking when you go outside your daily community.

     4. Find ways to interact with these learning buddies. Make space to learn with them and from them in person or virtually. 

     Find your teaching posse! These are the learning professionals who will offer you the support and love you need to have your teaching grow. And, keep us posted! We would love to hear all about your own professional posse, and how you are learning together!

– Patty

Excerpted with permission from Engaging Every Learner: Classroom Principles, Strategies and Tools, Patricia Vitale-Reilly, Heinemann, 2015.