Monday, March 30, 2015


Tuesday afternoon. I watch the presenter as she facilitates the district meeting. She is young, probably in her early thirties. Every once in a while her screen saver comes on and shows a really cute toddler, a little guy with dark hair and dark eyes. 

She works the room before we start, touching base with each individual teacher. She knows them- knows their classrooms, their principals, their schools. She also knows about their families and takes time to inquire about husbands, children, spring break plans. And there are lots of hugs. 

She tells us she has about ten years teaching experience in second grade, in an ELA-S classroom (that's my district's code for teachers who teach English language learners, the S means she is fluent in Spanish and spends part of the day teaching in that language). 

And then the session starts. She is clearly very bright. Knows her stuff. Her presentation is focused and interactive. There is a nice blend of information and activity. She shares the most recent information on our district's efforts to bring in the "Seal of Biliteracy" then moves quickly into demonstrating  a technique for integrating academic language into Spanish classrooms. 

We end up as partners in a small group and she is oh so kind as I fumble to speak Spanish, modeling, providing vocabulary and sentence stems, giving me feedback about what I am doing well, teaching me a few new words and phrases. 

Here's the really fun part of this story. I know this presenter. I have known her for a long time. Ten years ago, I was in my first year as a literacy coach at a mostly Spanish-speaking school in Northwest Denver. It wasn't a high point in my career- I had adopted the boys about two years prior to this and had realized the previous spring that I was not going to be able to balance the demands of an administrative position and single parenthood. I was still sad about giving up the dream of becoming a principal in an urban setting.

At that time, L was a first year teacher. A really first year teacher, having just finished a degree as a theater/music/Spanish major. She had never taught. I'm not sure whether she had student taught. Together, we walked through those first three years. I worked with her on classroom management. Parent communication. I taught her to take running records. To do guided reading. We wrote unit plans together. I substituted the day she got sick in class. She was a coach's dream- full of questions, eager to learn, quick to implement anything she was taught. Two years later, as a new teammate came and L and I mentored her together. I left that school after three years, but we have kept in touch, and I have loved watching her grow and develop into a really capable veteran teacher. 

I'm not quite ready to retire yet, but it's good to know that when I am,  there are people ready to carry on. 


writekimwrite said...

This shows how you have invested in L. and now are sharing in the joy of seeing her develop into such a capable professional. We don't have literacy coaches in my part of the teaching world but this reminds me that investing in those new to the profession is essential.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful that you have had a hand in mentoring such a wonderful teacher! I know that this must be extremely affirming. Keep at it!

elsie said...

How great it was for you to see her in action and be so accomplished. What a treat it was so many years ago to have someone who wanted to learn all you had to teach her. As long as the job is a joy (most of the days), there is no reason to retire. You are a valuable resource to all.

Sally said...

And they are only ready because of YOUR guidance! What a great story.

Tara said...

That's what passing the gift along is all about, isn;t it? How lucky she was to have had your kind and wise hand guiding her when she first began!

Linda B said...

I am leaving this year, and I know what you mean. Some of my assistants are now teachers at the school. I'm more than ready, but it is nice to think a little part of what I shared will carry on. Your colleague sounds wonderful, Carol. What a sweet thing for you to see and experience!

Michelle said...

Just awesome. Keep mentoring and sharing your words of wisdom, your guidance, and collegial mindset!

Stacey Shubitz said...

I hope you'll consider reaching out to your colleague and sharing this slice of life story with her. I bet it would mean so much.

Deb Frazier said...

What a lovely post. I have a student teacher now, I have written about the experience often here in the SOL challenge. I feel very strongly that we need to share our experience with new teachers. I didn't become the teacher I am from my university. I became the teacher I am trough the mentors in my career, after college.
Thanks for mentoring!