Do I deserve a 30 minute reflection on my work as a literacy coach and specialist this year? Yes. Will I give it to myself? Maybe. Am I dumb enough to Will I publish it on my blog for the world to see? Apparently.

I learned… that being a full-time mom, part-time everything-else is challenging, but not necessarily in the ways that I thought it would be. Yes, I had some (okay, what’s the adjective between some and too many?) mornings where I raced from home to school and back with not enough sleep and not enough caffeine and was running late and behind from beginning to end. But I feel like what I really learned (and still am learning), is that it’s the sustained mental attention it takes to think clearly and thoughtfully about the gnarly, complex issues of teaching and learning that can be hard to summon when you’re also tackling some gnarly, complex issues in other parts of your life. It felt a lot like learning to drive stick-shift all over again, and my clutch is completely shot from trying to figure out how and when to change gears. (Btw, is that metaphor completely obsolete? Does anyone drive stick anymore?) I learned small hacks (check and write emails on the train, a bag of almonds and lots of milk in your coffee is a fine breakfast). But mostly I just needed practice going back and forth from work-me to mommy-me, tentatively experimenting with integration and alternation, trying to stay gentle with myself and keep my sense of humor along the way.

And… does it count as learning if I learned some of the same things I learn every year in this job? Namely: telling is not teaching; listening is not learning; and there’s still so much to learn!!

I was stretched by… hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Ahem. Sorry, what wasn’t I stretched by? I think I’d have to answer for several instances this year by simply saying: failure. There were many times this year that I failed at achieving what I could have or should have: promises broken, teachers left unsupported, emails left unanswered, kids left untaught. I’m used to a much higher success rate than I was able to achieve this year, so these failures forced me to hone important skills: humility, taking deep breaths, crafting graceful apologies, resilience, tenacity. I truly see each one of the failures as a gift. (And I’m sure I’ll get a lot more “presents” next year, too!!)

I am excited about… Next year. As crazy and chaotic as it gets at the end of each year, I always leave with a sense of hope and possibility for next year. I’ve been reading Student-Centered Coaching: A Guide for K-8 Coaches and Principals, and have restructured my job a little, and am looking forward to a fresh approach to my coaching with a more structured focus on assessment and student achievement. (My schedule will also give me lots more time for writing, which I’m alternately psyched and scared about…)

I’m beginning to realize… that right now is the most valuable moment in my job. Don’t put it off until you can do it “perfectly”. Just do it (imperfectly) now. When a teacher comes to my office with a query or dilemma, I’m discovering that asking if they have a minute to discuss it now can mean the difference between getting an “in” and making headway and a disappointing loss of momentum. Does this mean that I’m working more “off the cuff” and less systematically? Yes. Does it mean that the teacher’s dilemma gets solved neatly and cleanly? No.

But… I’ve been doing this long enough to realize that the pursuit of the kind of perfect, magic-bullet literacy coaching that ends with neatly tied bows is an illusion. One that I’m happier and happier to abandon as I learn… stretch… and get excited to continue my journey in this remarkable job…

(Thanks, Ruth, for the nudge and the reflection prompts!)