TCRWP Coaching Institute
Sunday 1/24 and Monday 1/25
"I'm going to New York this weekend for a TC Institute..." I told them, as they were working in Grace's classroom after school.
"That's awesome!" Vicente exclaimed. Grace nodded- I had already told her how I felt about the institute about a hundred times. Vicente said, "Wait, why do you look upset about that?"
"Ughhh," I sighed and sat on the edge of a student desk. "There's a blizzard!" This wasn't actually the only reason I was upset about the trip, but the anxiety I felt about it was hard to pin down and articulate.
They reassured me that snow was normal for New York and that it would be cool/fun/interesting/adventurous. I shrugged and they looked at me expectantly, waiting for elaboration, since this obviously wasn't a good enough reason to be upset.
"I'm afraid of not being good...or not...knowing as much as these other people!" I blurted out.
After patiently listening to me rant about this, Grace or Vicente, I can't remember which, called me out on my fear. "That's an awfully fixed mindset!"
I felt like I had been jerked awake from my spiraling fear. I was afraid of being alone in a strange city, of taking the subway to Queens, of slipping on the ice, of forgetting to pack socks, of my plane crashing in a blizzard, of my phone ringing while Lucy Calkins was talking, of looking stupid in front of people I admire. They were right- I was in a fixed mindset rut about the trip. The three of us had been reading Mindset by Carol Dweck for the Giannini Instructional Leadership Team meetings, and I had, up to this moment, thought of myself as a "Growth Mindset" expert. I teach my kids this! I preach this to my colleagues! I take risks in my classroom! But as soon as I was presented with the idea of leaving my classroom, my comfort zone, my brain went straight to a fixed mindset.
A desire to appear smart in front of others, avoidance of a challenge, feeling threatened by the success of others...textbook fixed mindset. (Literally- see graphic below!)
From then on I tried to look at it from a different angle- an opportunity to learn more about teaching and coaching teachers and an opportunity to travel alone for the first time.
The trip was certainly difficult! I landed in Chicago and as soon as I turned on my phone, I got a text message from United that my connecting flight to LaGuardia had been cancelled. But I forged ahead- getting United to retrieve my suitcase, securing a seat on the first flight out the next day, and booking myself a hotel room in Chicago. Once I landed in LaGuardia on Monday evening, (after a maintenance issue on the plane delayed our flight by four hours) I was feeling more confident.
I ended up walking out of LaGuardia airport with two strangers (now friends!) because of an epic traffic jam. After a mile of walking through the snow and past the honking cars, busses, and taxis, we caught a cab together to Manhattan. This experience really sealed the deal- I was on an adventure and I could totally handle it.
I checked into my hotel room and thought about the previous few days with a sense of deep accomplishment. I treated myself to some matzo ball soup at the cozy diner next door while I recounted the whole story to Colin on the phone.
Though I wasn't able to attend the Sunday and Monday portions of the Coaching Institute, I definitely got a lot of other things done. In all my down time on the planes and in my hotel room, I read Eleanor and Park and I read and took notes the entire first 6 chapters of Writing Pathways. (See my notes linked below.)
I also learned a lot about myself. I took a risk, embraced a challenge, and persisted in the face of difficulty. While this trip probably doesn't sound difficult or dangerous to a seasoned traveler, it felt like a risk to me. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to push myself as a person in my travels and as an educator at the institute. I can't wait to share what I've learned with all of you!
Carla was my group's Staff Developer- it was nice to see a familiar face. She went over structures of conferences and small groups, since some of the 15 people in my group were not familiar with workshop or with the TC Units of Study. Most of the people were literacy coaches for a school or a district- some of us were teacher leaders and also taught a full load of classes. One woman was a teacher librarian from an American school in Amman, Jordan! Many people were from NY and Connecticut, and two other people were from California.
For one period we practiced mini-lesson structure with students. We taught it to a small group of 8th grade students in a jigsaw style. We also learned about a lot of coaching techniques and school-wide structures to support workshop.
After lunch, we all went to Teachers College for three informational sessions. I also stayed after these for an optional make-up session with Amanda Hartman for people who missed Sunday.
My notes from these sessions are linked below.