So I hugged my former teacher colleagues, the ones who had been there to witness my first years of teaching. We were all smiles and formalities, playing it safe with asking about summer plans and how the year had gone.
Then we sat down, I going off to sit at the designated “coach” table and they took their seats at the tables in front of the room. I checked emails and began perusing through a project that had been started last week and had to be finished by this Friday. The presenter’s voice went over my head for most of the day.
At lunch, it was obvious that the teachers were really enjoying their professional development day and were chatting up a storm of all the things they were going to change for the coming school year. I just nibbled away at some peanut butter cookies, glad to be present in the room, but not needing to engage fully with the teachers. These are the types of days that I really like. I am present, but not required to talk to anyone.
The afternoon hour brought on planning time as I continued to peruse the project and began to work just a bit faster to try to get it done. Just as I was trying to figure out how much explanation to include on my document, the presenter came to my side and said, “adult learners. Here is something I learned right now.” She had my full attention. She was brilliant and engaging and the teachers were eating up all her words. What could she possibly have more to learn?
“I wasn’t clear about the teaching point. In the 3 think aloud demonstrations, I was not explicit about the teaching point.” A bit of a giggle escapes her. I must have had a confused look, as she then explained more. “That group near the wall, they don’t have a teaching point! I went over and sat with them and they were planning using the model, but when I asked what they were teaching, they said, ‘oh we’re just following the structure of I go, practice, they go.’” More giggles from her.
I tried to imagine how you could plan anything without knowing what you were trying to teach. How does that work? Then I joined her in giggling. Oh jeez, the group had just really missed the point about planning with an objective in mind!
At the end of the day, when all the teachers had left, the presenter debriefed the day with the district team. I sat nearby, annoyed that I still hadn’t completed the project and now biting my nails to figure it out so I could send it off. I caught some of their discussion.
“The demo lesson went really well.” “They asked great questions about the instruction.” “Were ready to dig in and plan.” “This group is going to need a lot of support.” At that my head whipped around to see the presenter pointing to the table nearest the wall. “They are so lost.” “What school are they from?” “Ohhhhh, I coached her and it was so hard.” “I am telling you, they will need lots of help. They were looking at me with confused expressions all day.” “They weren’t able to plan.” “They need to get on a planet. Right now, their not even on one!”
I thought back to the beginning of the day. Who had been at that table? Then the memory of hugs came back. My former colleagues.