Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pick up the milk carton please.

Warning:  This post isn't really going to deal much with math.  I know, what a let down.  Well, maybe I will find a way to sneak it in.  Who knows? 

This year, my position has changed in my school.  It's exciting and scares the crap out of me at the same time.  I still teach two classes, but the rest of the day I am a math coach for the rest of the school with an emphasis on the math department.  It's exciting because I want to help my department be the best they can be.  I want to help them stretch and reach for that next level of greatness.  My principal has been a huge part of how my teaching has evolved in the past years.  He's been avuncular when I needed it and pushy when I needed it.  I want to share that knowledge with others.  It scares the crap out of me because I don't want to fail.  Because who really wants to fail at something? At anything?

Anyway, I am in this new position and I was out in another teacher's classroom talking strategies for helping with fractions when a third teacher walks into the room.  He's on a tear.  He's upset and just doesn't have anything good to say about the school leadership or the building or just teaching in general.  I stood there for a few minutes hoping it was a storm that was going to pass.  But oh no, he then turned to me and wanted me to personally know how bad he has had it here.  I tried to calm him down, play the "it's not as bad as you say" person in the room.  But he just kept complaining.  I finally left.  He picked the wrong person to talk to. 

This year didn't start off great for our math department either.  I could list, no joke, about 30 things that went wrong since the start of school and ramble on and on how "bad" things have gotten.  However, I have chosen not to.  I choose to make it better.  Complaining about the issues and doing nothing is like eating slimy okra.  Only a few people really like it and then it needs to be cooked just right.  I'm not trying to be vainglorious.  Don't get me wrong.  I do have my moments.  But I get over myself, untwist my big girl panties, and start finding solutions.

It's much like a milk carton in the middle of the hallway.  We could throw a fit about how the school is so littered and the kids don't care.  We could form a committee on how to improve school wide littering.  We could write letters to the district office.  YADDA YADDA YADDA.  Or we could pick up the milk carton as we walk by and toss in the trash.  And by one simple task or solution, we are on the way to making things better.  I'm about finding solutions and making it better.  And as a side note, I don't think things are going "bad".  It's changing and leaving us behind if we don't change with it.

With that being said, it's now time for me to focus on my lesson plans for tomorrow.  Tonight I want to sleep peacefully.  I want to dream of peacefully walking the beach near some Hemmingway-esque Key West village, not fret over the milk carton in the hallway.


  1. I am just trying to play devil’s advocate here but as a coach did you try really listening to his complaints and seeing if there were ways to find solutions or to put a positive spin. I think everyone needs to rant and sometimes we ARE selfish and it is ALL about me. Sometimes I need someone to give me perspective. Sometimes I just need to feel heard in my frustrations. As a coach you are a liaison between the teachers and the administration. Being a coach means trying to remain neutral and be willing to challenge both sides of the balance between administration and educators. You are the person who bears the weight of both groups’ expectations and you need to make sure that you are listening to BOTH sides even if you don’t agree with their statements. Sometimes listening to the complaining lets you see an avenue to reach them that you never saw before. Sometimes people who complain may open your eyes to see that what is happening isn’t always perfect and you can look for new solutions together. There isn’t just one approach to education that can work for all. No one is the ultimate expert in how a classroom should be run. If we didn’t question/complain/address/adjust how would we ever make progress?

  2. Thanks sillymommy for playing the devil's advocate! I did try, but maybe not enough. Thanks for your feedback. You are absolutely right.