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 Teaching is a Marathon – it takes practice, training and courage

2/11/2020 2:00 AM

​My head spins when I think about the 11 Chicago Marathons I have completed and all of the connections I can make to my teaching practices. Thirteen years ago, my dream of running a marathon began. I started running, or I should say, jogging around the block. I did not realize my dream that year, but I did not let go of that dream. I kept going around that block, a little bit faster, a little bit longer, and my dream did come true that next year.

After completing that first marathon I wanted more. So I signed up again for the following year. My dream was to not just finish, but to finish faster. I kept signing up, year after year, with that same goal of finishing faster. I kept running and running, training the same way, and I just could not beat my finish time. In fact for 10 years, my finish times were increasing. Finally, I did some hard reflection and stubbornly decided to change up my training practices. I found a trainer who I trusted and connected with. Someone who helped me change my practices and see and embrace small gains during my journey, and knew when to push me a little bit farther. I found a trainer who did not just tell me what to do, but one who was fully invested in me, someone who would actually run alongside me and support me the whole way. Last October, I was able to cut my marathon finishing time by an hour.

In the classroom, I too find the need to continually self-reflect on my practices to ensure that students are making the best gains possible. It is easy to get set in my ways and revert to lessons and presentations that have always worked for me. But if I do not see students being successful, I must change things up. It takes courage to step out of that comfort zone, but I must be willing to try new strategies, be that guide, and know when and where to intervene so that just the right amount of support helps a student meet and even exceed their goals.

As an instructional coach this year, I love challenging myself to be a great trainer, help teachers realize the dreams and goals they have for their students, be that person that other teachers can trust and connect with, collaborate and co-plan new ways to better reach students, and help everyone celebrate the small accomplishments along the way. Coaching gives me the great opportunity to push a little bit harder and reach even a little bit higher, knowing that nothing is impossible, and we must finish strong for the success of every student!

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