Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Thank you to my coaching colleagues - #SOLSC Day 1

I love March, when during the Slice of Life Challenge, I commit to writing on a daily basis. It's fun during 31 days of posts to watch the ebb and flow of my writing. Some days I'll be incredibly pleased with how a post turned out; other days I'll just be glad I posted anything at all. A huge thanks to the gang at Two Writing Teachers for hosting, organizing, and commenting on this ginormous event each year. I appreciate the community of writers you encourage the entire month of March, and all the Tuesdays the rest of the year. Thank you, thank you.

This March, I plan to connect as many posts as possible to my #OLW for the year - SAVOR.

"You can do this."

"No, it's beautiful out, and I don't want to participate today."

"I'm telling you, you will regret not going in. This is going to be a fantastic day of learning."

"I'm tired, and a little bit cranky, and don't feel like I will be invested in a productive day. I think I should just head home."


A car horn interrupted the warring voices in my head, as I sat in the parking lot trying to decide whether or not I was really up for the Dublin Literacy conference this past Saturday. The horn interruption came from two of my coaching colleagues, Brooke and Heather. I looked up and saw their smiling faces drive by, and park down the row from me - I realized seeing those faces was a sign of which voice to listen.

How lucky I was to see those faces and smiles at that moment. I quieted the voices in my head, turned off my car, and headed into the conference with them, and I'm so glad I did!! (It was one of my favorite Dublin Literacy conferences ever - more on that soon!)

As the day progressed, I reflected on how much these colleagues have meant to me, both personally and professionally, these past three years I have been an intermediate literacy coach.

Three years ago... I had no more than a surface knowledge of their names; I truly didn't know either of these individuals at all. How far we have come since then! And how fortunate I am because of it!

Three years ago... one of those colleagues was a 3rd grade teacher in a building I was assigned. Every coaching cycle I came to her building, we engaged in reflective and collegial conversations about how to grow readers and writers. I know I learned from our conversations and collaborative work together, and hopefully, she learned a little as well. Two years ago, she interviewed for, and became, another intermediate literacy coach in our district, and I was thrilled to know our learning together would be continuing.

Three years ago... the other face in the car Saturday morning was entering her second year as an intermediate coach as the rest of our literacy group was beginning at Year 1. In addition to her coaching assignment at her building, she also gives reading support to students. Time and time again, over the past 3 years, I have relied on her experience and skill sets to help me think through tricky reading situations in which the classroom teacher and I got stuck on "next steps" for specific students. And I have trusted, and tried to emulate, her reflective look at deconstructing standards with teachers to make them more manageable.

These ladies have been colleagues that I treasure for their inquisitiveness, their knowledge, their reflective natures, their willingness to collaborate and share, and so much more.

But if your peek below the surface of our professional relationship, you find people who have become friends. Those colleagues/friends who:

  • laugh together - much laughter as we first learned the ins and outs of sharing Google Docs with one another (trust me on this one!)
  • share the good and the bad in our lives when the need arises
  • enjoy eating and sharing the same type of pizza - Ryan's Inferno - when we visit a local pizzeria
  • stay connected through Google hangouts, emails, and texts
  • borrow each other's clothing (well, the truth of it is, I was asked by one of them one time, and it was a scarf - kind of a one size fits all, but still!!)
So, as I spent Saturday learning and talking and reflecting with these smart women, it comes as no surprise that with their "BEEP! BEEP!" in the parking lot that morning, they lifted me up once again.

I will continue to savor our relationships as both colleagues and friends for as long as I can!

**Author's note - These two coaches lifted me up Saturday, but for the past 3 years, all of these other incredible women have lifted me up as colleagues as well as we embraced literacy coaching together. And on a very personal note, they were all there for me during the year my parents died within seven months of each other.

  • Josie, 
  • Lisa, 
  • Lynsey, 
  • Gayle, 
  • Mandy, 
  • Gretchen, 
  • Rita, 
  • and Jill. 
Thank you all so very much!! Words can never express how very grateful I am to be part of such an amazing, powerful, reflective, caring, and smart group of women. It has been a true blessing.


  1. Such a wonderful post to honor your true friends. They are a blessing indeed!

  2. Hi Karen, what a beautiful tribute to your friends and colleagues. You''re lucky to have them, to work and play together! Happy SOLC!

  3. So glad the moment came when you needed it --I remember you doing that for me a year ago when I needed it. Funny how life works -- I will always savor seeing your comment pop up on my blog and thinking --that is who I need to talk to --right now. And I did!! Happy Slicing.

  4. After reading this, I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. It was a wonderful day of learning and I am so l glad that we got to spend it together. I am thankful to have you as a colleague and friend. You are a wealth of knowledge and I am so grateful to have been able to work with you as a classroom teacher as well as a teammate:) Thanks for the kind words.

  5. I am in my first year as a coach at a new building, and I am missing that deep connection you have with colleagues! I hope that I can develop connections like that again.

  6. Oh Karen - what a treat it was to read this blog. Yes - laughter is what keeps us going for sure - and knowing that a cute scarf is only a few streets away! If I kept a blog I would dedicate a day to you and how thankful I am for God's perfect timing. Just when I re-entered the education world and needed to re-invent myself and re-think the practices that were current 10 years ago, along came you and a team of smart women to help me define my updated core set of beliefs about how kids learn. I am forever grateful for the years spent coaching with you! #comfycouch #behindthescenesdvd

  7. Karen, I am so thankful for you and for the entire coaching team. I continue to learn so much from all of you and treasure each of you professionally and personally. Your words are so perfect and I am so fortunate to know you and work with you. I continue to marvel at your knowledge and your giving heart for education.