Has anyone ever helped you in your career? Been your champion? How will you become someone else’s champion?
I’m thinking of Barb Davies. She was my instructional coach when I went back to teaching in 1999 after a ten-year baby raising break. My experience teaching in the 80s was very different. We were given textbooks and several teacher guides, and we taught what was in the textbooks.
Anyway, I came back to school in the new world of state standards, but I didn’t know. When I was hired, I assumed teaching was still the same.
I had a science book and a class of hungry-for-learning second graders. We did a picture walk through the whole science book, and I let them vote on which chapter they wanted to learn first. (I guess I could be a little innovative in the olden days.)
It didn’t surprise me when they chose dinosaurs. It was early in the year, our first or second week. We got to work making a bulletin board with 3-D trees and rocks. Paint was flying, kids were making dinosaurs. It was a big, beautiful mess.
In comes Barb after school for our first meeting. I thought she’d be impressed with the students’ mural. I’ll never forget our conversation that ended in my tears.
What are state standards?
What do you mean second graders in Arizona don’t study dinosaurs?
Why would it be in our books if they don’t study it?
Anyway, it was a memorable point in my development as a teacher. Over the next three years, though, Barb helped me, like no one had before or since, to become a good teacher. To understand pedagogy like I had never understood it before. It was all good. She was a mentor and my champion.
Three years later, when there was a new reading specialist position opening at our school, she recommended me for the job. I’ll never forget you, Barb.
How will I become someone’s champion? That’s a good question to ponder. I suspect I have helped some people along the way, but I like the question. I need to do some thinking about who and how to do that in a more deliberate way, as Barb did for me.
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