Category Archives: Reflections on coaching

#sol20 March 23 A Slice of 10 minutes or less of working from home. . .

Earlier today, (It feels like it must have been a different day. But, it was this day.) I had to start to figure out how to really work a full day while my kids did their school stuff, etc.

I put headphones on even though my zoom meeting wasn’t starting yet. It was just so I wouldn’t hear the kids in the other room. I’m not sure what kind of parent this makes me, but it’s what I did, and I need to be honest with you. I could still hear them.

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But, I tried to just jump into my real work anyway. I mean, I had 12 whole minutes until my zoom. Surely I could knock something off of my to-do list.

Before the headphones, one of my kids was super curious about what I was doing when he heard me playing a zoom recording someone had sent me

“Are you in a meeting?” he said, peeking over my shoulder. 

“No,” I said quickly, trying to ignore my child. There. I’ve said it. This morning began with me trying to ignore my kids, and that is how the day has ended too. 

“Play it again!” he said, “I thought someone said, Ona Feinberg!” 

So,  I finally showed him again and convinced him that it was not what he thought.

Alone, I took a deep breath and started working again, half-listening to the boys talking in the kitchen. This might have been when I realized that it really is hard for me to concentrate when people are making noise around me.  So, I put my headphones on, and the “Totally Stress Free” station on Spotify. 

Seconds later, he was back. 

“Can we make pumpkin muffins?” 

Oh. This one was easy. We don’t have any flour. So I said, “We don’t have the ingredients.”

“I’ll check” was the answer as he went to check, and popped back in a minute later.

“No, we don’t have flour,” he said. “So I’ll make pumpkin pie.” 

O.M.G. Deep breaths. 

Aha! I figured it out. This will stop the baking extravaganza in my freshly cleaned up kitchen! “How will you make the crust?” I challenged. “We don’t have flour or graham crackers or anything like that.” 

“Oh, there are ways,” he said like he was in a dramatic movie. Or maybe a soap opera. And he disappeared back into the kitchen.”

“You have my permission to google how you might make the crust, you can’t make anything until you run it by me and right now I have to work,” I yelled after him, and turned my attention back to my computer.

“Okay. So I’ll look it up.” 

A minute later, “Okay, I got it. I can start making it now.”

“No! Not yet. Hold on!”

In came the next kid. 

“Mama. I want to start a business.” She flopped down into a chair in front of my desk.

I had to laugh. It just came out. Pumpkin pies and businesses. Forget the struggle of working full time and running a home school, I suddenly felt like I was also running a bakery and a business school.

“I mean after the coronavirus is over,” she said. 

Deep breaths in, Ona. Deep breaths out.

“Okay, that’s awesome honey. I have a zoom-in like 10 minutes. And work to do before that. Can we maybe talk about your business idea in a little bit? Maybe later today?” 

With just a slight pout she started to read instead. So, I went back to work.

But then Mr. Pumpkin Pie chef comes back.

“I’ve figured it out. I can make the crust with crushed ice cream cones and cinnamon Chex.”

“Okay,” I say. And then, because it’s still early, but I already feel like I’ve worked a whole day, I say, “But if there is one speck of mess in the kitchen; if there is one speck of conflict while baking; if the kitchen isn’t cleaner than when you started, you won’t be doing any more baking for the whole pandemic.”

That seemed to go over well, so I turn back to my computer.

But then another kid walked in. (Don’t worry. I only have 3, so my morning slice is almost over.)

“Can you read this from my teacher with me?” he asked. “Can you help me?”

My chef says something from the kitchen that I don’t understand and my daughter says, “He says he’s going to use the food processor to make the crust.”

“You can’t use the food processor while I’m zooming!” I yell. “And my zoom starts in less than 10 minutes!

“Oh,” he says calmly. “I’ll just do it really quickly right now.”

And he does.

(Epilogue: And then the house smells delicious for the rest of the day, he did clean the kitchen, and the pie was delicious, and I did get to my zoom on time, and the next zooms too, and the kids did most of what they were supposed to while I was working, and the house is mostly not a disaster, and I was somewhat successful some of the times I tried to ignore my kids, including the time I spent writing this slice…)

 

 

 

..

 

#sol20 March 19 A Slice of a Chore

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by.

 

“I’ll just empty the dishwasher and then go upstairs.” H explains to me the one chore he thinks he will do.

“Actually,” I tell him – with my Zoom mute on, and my hand covering the microphone of my earbuds, “We are out of dishwasher detergent. So we can’t do that load until we go to the store.”

He’s annoyed and walks away.

I go back to my Zoom. I like to say “I go back to my Zoom” even though I don’t have to “go” anywhere. I just turn my head so it’s back in the frame, and uncover the microphone.

A little later though, I hear some odd noises and phrases.

So the microphone gets covered again, mute is pushed again, my head tilts out of the frame, again.

“What are you guys doing?” I yell in my I’m serious but not mad because I don’t want to make it seem like I’m pre-mad voice.

“Oh. Just making some dishwashing detergent.” H says back.

“What?” I say.

L comes out of the kitchen. “He’s making some dishwashing detergent.”

“With what?”

“Oh, baking soda, vinegar, salt…” H is out of the kitchen explaining.

Hmmm, I think.  What am I supposed to do here?

My Zoom meeting is still happening.

But is it a mess? What will actually happen if we try it?

And also, cool. If we don’t have to go to the store right now, that’s even better.

“Did you google how to do it?”

“Yep.” H says with confidence. “It’s all good.”

So I turn back to my computer, uncover my microphone and rejoin my Zoom.

Next up… I have to open the dishwasher… Wish me luck.

#sol20 March 18 A Slice of a list

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by.

 

some things that are getting me through…

kids doing (some of) their chores & school work, it’s a start
facetiming mom & dad, even though they are only 20 minutes away
slicing every day, and commenting too
texting with friends, stay connected!
zoom meetings with colleagues, zoom zoom!
funny memes on facebook, because you have to laugh or…
goodnewsnetwork, to balance out the other stuff
walking the dog, making the kids come along
the good place episodes, and telling netflix that yes, we are still watching
movie nights, a lot of movie nights

#sol20 March 4 A Slice of a Poem, I Guess?

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge!
I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

 

I don’t usually hear owls in the morning.

Do I?

This is what I am thinking as I arrive at school, balancing my coffee and bags and a water bottle, and my phone so I can speech-to-text a note to myself to remember later. Only, my phone thinks I’ve said, “I don’t usually hear about it in the morning.”

So I have to rebalance my bags so I can correct that in the note– because it feels like a slice. If I go home hours later and see a note that says “I don’t usually hear about it in the morning,” I’ll never know what I was talking about.

I breathe in the cool morning air, that feels both like it’s spring now, and also like it could snow any day.

Maybe this will be the kind of day where there are slices all around me, I think. Maybe I’ll fill my note on my phone with amazing inspiration for a poem that starts with

I don’t usually hear owls in the morning. 

I can add something about the cool morning air.

I don’t usually hear owls in the morning
Cool morning
Spring air
Snow soon

What a poet I am! I write a little in my mind while I walk to my room.

It will be a day full of slice inspiration. Slice-piration! 

Only I’m pretty busy, and the only other note I write is scrawled on a post-it on a page of the 5th-grade literary essay book. It’s a comment a student makes during the connection of our mini-lesson, and I have to write it down because I need it for my #finthejoy video.

I had reminded the class I was there for writing yesterday, and that today we were going to continue growing ideas about our stories to help us with interpretations for our literary essays.

“Wait. You were here yesterday?” A boy asked. “Morning or afternoon?”

“Afternoon.”

“You’re like a ninja!” he said.

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So, that’s my poem for the day, I guess. It must mean something, right?

 

I don’t usually hear owls in the morning

Cool morning
Spring air
Snow soon

Like a ninja

 

A Slice of Recharge

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teacher

 

My Tuesdays are full of meetings, usually with 10 minutes in between. Today, I went to my room between meetings, plugged in my laptop, added a few yellow sunbursts to my “sunny days ahead” sign, and munched an apple while I took a picture of my new motivational sign. 

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I leaned against my counter for a minute, feeling guilty for not getting something from my to-do list done. I mean, that’s hard to do in 5-minute intervals, but not impossible. 

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I looked down at my laptop, and thought, “Well, at least I got my laptop a little recharged for the next meeting.” 

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Only then did it occur to me that maybe my minute of coloring and minute of apple crunching was my recharge. I mean, if my laptop deserves a recharge, maybe I do too? 

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Is this what they call self-care? 

I took another picture of myself to remember that today, I did indeed have 5 minutes of self-care.

Are you allowed to slice twice? A Slice of Apple

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

My backpack is torn, well-used, broken-in. I should buy a new one, but this one still works, so why spend the money?

“Clean out backpack” was on my list to do this morning, and since I’ve been working all summer I didn’t think it would be a big deal. I’ve been using my backpack a lot. I feel like I just cleaned it out a month ago.

That must have been when I put an apple in there for a mid-PD snack.

That apple died in my backpack. It was a terrible death, as evidenced by the disgusting paper towel I pulled from the bottom.

“I guess I can throw my bag in the wash tonight.” I comforted myself.

And then I pulled out my Coaching Institute notebook. The notebook that I use all the time. The notes help me frame so many things in my work: Purpose, inspiration,  feedback, balanced literacy, coaching in… The TCRWP Coaching Institute was the best Professional Development I’ve ever had!

My notes are mostly gone now – soaked away by dying apple juice.

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This better not be an indication of how my coaching year will go.

This better just be an indication that I need to buy a new backpack. And maybe a lunchbox. And maybe it’s time to go back to Teacher’s College for another Institute.

A Slice of Coaching: Year 3 Begins

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

In-service starts today.

I miss my classroom.

Facebook memories kept popping up all August, and even though so many memories are of times when I wrote about how tiring and stressful it is to set up a classroom, they still make me miss it.

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I miss organizing my library, touching every book.

I miss putting up bulletin boards, even though it usually means calling for a tall teacher friend to help.

I miss walking over to the teacher next door and helping them with their desk set-up, moving combinations until it’s just right.

I miss the multiple runs to Target to buy more adhesive label pockets.

I miss putting all the new school supplies in the cabinet.

Post-its. I miss gathering all of my post-its into the big bin and pulling some out to stay at my desk.

Sharpies. I miss those new packs of sharpies.

My mom sometimes makes fun of me, “You became a teacher for the supply closet!” she says.

And, I do like the supply closet. I like fresh back-to-school pencils and notebooks. I like perforating and laminating and cutting. (It’s not why I’m a teacher, but it is part of the job — a part I often enjoy)

I like classroom set-up because it’s fun and satisfying work and because it’s part of the rhythm of anticipating the real joy of the classroom: The students. Every label I make, every book I shelve, is part of the ritual. I know that soon the students will be choosing books from those labeled shelves, adding work to those bulletin boards, needing a sharpie, and jotting thoughts on those post-its.

Last week, a few teachers let me help them in their rooms.  I printed out some vinyl letters for them, helped them with a few odds and ends, perforated some math manipulatives, that sort of thing: Preparation!

I took a set of math manipulatives home with me to break apart. As I sat, doing the satisfying work, listening to the clicking of the pieces, I wondered, “Why is this so great? What is wrong with me that I am so happy to be sitting here clicking these pieces apart? Too bad there aren’t more new teachers who need me to do this job!”

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What’s so great? It’s no small thing to be trusted to put up a bulletin board, to take supplies home to organize. It’s no small thing to lay a hand in preparing for students.

I miss preparing things for my own classes of students,  printing out my class lists, and running my hand down the page — wondering who my amazing children will be!

As an Instructional Coach,  I don’t get my very own class of kids. I do get to share our kids though, and I can’t wait to see those kids fill the hallways next week. It’s year 3 for me in this role,  which means I’ve had the chance to get to know our children for 2 years. There’s something about watching familiar faces enter their new classrooms. There’s something about watching the new kindergarteners come in and find their teachers.

This week at in-service, I won’t be printing out my class list, but I will be reconnecting with my teachers. Maybe someone will have some math manipulatives for me to click apart, a box to unpack, library books to put on a shelf, class lists to print out. A coach can only dream…

Maybe I’ll print out a list of the amazing teachers I get to work with — the ones I’ve worked with deeply, the ones I am looking forward to working with more, and the ones I will meet today.

 

Mama Bear Slam Poem Slice

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

Mama Bear Slam Poem

My question for you is about 
empathy
and if you're ever left 
wondering 
if it's possibly 
tiring
to be a child with the 
tendency
to teach adults about the 
possibility 
of differences being 
necessary?

I strive to teach my kids empathy, compassion, truth. 

I think I've done my due 
diligence
as one of two respectful, kind 
parents
in teaching my kid not to look for 
vengeance
not to give in to 
vindictiveness
to take all the varied 
consequences 
even when they are ridiculous or 
limitless. 

I strive to teach my kids empathy, compassion, truth. 

Listen up, people! I can't, I can't I can't
I can't 
So I'm letting Mama Bear take 
command
She's ready to tackle the problem 
at hand
She doesn't stand on ceremony, you 
understand. 
She has a strong voice and one 
demand
She knows her kid - will take a 
chance. 

I strive to teach my kids empathy, compassion, truth. 

Because, I'll tell you what's 
nonsensical. 
I'll give you a general
hypothetical 
Kid asked to take the high road, be 
impeccable
While adults judge from down low, it's 
disrespectful 
If you didn't know your impact, that's 
defensible
But now you know, so it's 
reprehensible. 

I strive to teach my kids empathy, compassion, truth. 

I hope you don't feel
attacked
I know kindness isn't in your
contract
But I don't want my kid having 
flashbacks
to this kind of negative 
impact.
Time to decide how to snap
back.
Maybe apologize - it's time to 
act.

I strive to teach my kids empathy, compassion, truth. 
Am I in charge of teaching you too?

#sol19 March 27 A Slice of writing with kids (From My Chair)

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge!
I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

 

From this teacher's chair. I see
a paper clip
flair pens
teacher's guides
a read aloud
a
read
aloud. 

Bells, chimes
a small salt lamp all set
on this teacher desk.

From this teacher's chair. I see
students
pencils move 
eyes wander 
heads down- write
boys whisper - share
girls laugh - then write
5th graders slice.

From this teacher's chair. I hear
pencils on pages
keyboards tap
chromebooks open
students giggle
5th graders slice
in (relative) silence.

From this teacher's chair. I miss
my teacher desk
my read aloud
my students. 



#sol19 March 25 A slice of your slices

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge!
I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

March 25 

It's that day in March
stories overload my mind 
The only problem is
These slices 
aren't really mine

Writing doesn't always fit
the roles I take in life
a coach, 
a teacher
a mom and a wife

If I write my stories
and actually hit publish
I've broken the 
trust 
we thought we established

So I'll keep my mind closed
and my stories at bay
So your hopes 
and your dreams
aren't on display