By Ellen Eisenberg

By Ellen Eisenberg, Executive Director of The Professional Institute for Instructional Coaching (TPIIC)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Welcome back to school! I hope your summer was relaxing and at the same time, energizing, stimulating, and empowering. Doesn’t sound like relaxing belongs there, does it? But, in reality, relaxation can engender all of the above. 

A third-year coach emailed me last week and shared how relaxing this past summer was for her. But then, she asked if it was normal for her to be full of anxiety and at the same time, invigorated to start the new year. She read our book, Instructional Coaching in Action: An Integrated Approach That Transforms Thinking, Practice, and Schools and knew that she wanted to start the year with excerpts from the book and plan short articles for her monthly book/article studies for the year yet she was worried that she didn’t spend enough time this summer reading articles about adult learning and how to engage her colleagues in meaningful conversations.

I shared with her my teaching “stage fright” each September when I worried that I didn’t add enough to my repertoire of tools to continue making a positive impact on my students or for the teachers I coached when I made that instructional switch in responsibilities. I shared my nightmares that I wouldn’t be able to answer my students’ questions or my teaching colleagues’ inquiries when engaging in coaching interactions.  All of these fears are quite normal and to be expected after spending some much-needed time reflecting on past practice. Those reflections help make adjustments towards future practice. I call that “controlled anxiety!”

That’s exactly what coaches do… they reflect on the past, think about the present, and plan for the future. This occurs when the brain relaxes and the coach takes time to envision where to go. Our brains need to de-clutter before we can re-imagine where we are going and how we will engage our teaching colleagues in constructive conversations about teaching and learning.

So, fear not the anxiety about new beginnings and engage in productive thinking as you consider how to support your teaching colleagues this year. That anxiety is a good thing… it propels you into action!

So, what are some of the ways your summer thinking has shaped your beginnings for the new school year? 

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