Category Archives: Reflections on coaching

A Slice of Heartbreak

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers Thanks for stopping by!

These kids are breaking my heart.

It’s the way they call out my name “Hi Ms. Thought!” in the hallway.
Or pass me on the way to music and say, “Ms. Ona! I miss you sooooo much.”

Or, today when a class walked by me on their way to the library. They all waved and said hello. I told them I hoped library was super fun. The last boy passed me, waving. He said, “I don’t remember who you are. But, hi!”

It’s N, who comes in from book club, walks over to me, as I sit observing his class, and says “Can I draw? I want to draw a cherry.” I convince him to listen to the writing mini lesson instead, and he cartwheels over to his spot. When his teacher corrects his behavior, I think, “Oh no! He isn’t going to want to sit there now.” But instead he becomes engaged, helping with a shared writing. Later he is the very last to go to recess, because he wants to finish writing his book.

Last week I helped protect his toy all day in my office cabinet. He isn’t allowed to play with toys during class, but he really loved the one he snuck to school. He was hiding under the coats, and I coaxed him out, asking him what his toy did. He popped the toy out of the coats, pushed a button so the monster character started waving around. “Whomp, there it is!” he said. We walked the toy down to my office, and every time I saw him that day he asked me, “Are you still protecting my toy?” Every time, I explained that it was still in my cabinet, and that nobody would go in my cabinet, because everyone knows it’s mine.

“Is it locked?” he asked near the end of the day
When I told him that it wasn’t he looked at me and said, “I’m going to make you a key.”

It’s the way third graders get silent, revising playdoh builds of important, intriguing things they know and care about. Yesterday one boy worked so hard on making his cat, and said “she is important because she was my cat and now she died.” Yesterday he was so sad to squish his cat prototype back into the playdoh container.

“You’re going to make another one tomorrow!” I told him, “And you’ll remember how to do it, and it might even be better.”

He didn’t believe me.

Today, a few minutes into our playdoh revision, he said “Ms. Thought, you’re right! I do remember, and this time it is even better!”

It’s L, a first grader who I knew in remote kindergarten, who can’t seem to keep his mask over his nose for longer than a minute, but dutifully pulls it up every time he’s reminded. He’s working hard to learn his letters and sounds and last week he took me over to the word wall to point out the words he had made. “All the ones in black sharpie are mine!” he said with so much pride I almost started crying. Then he asked me if he could get the Woody toy again, to help him write his piece, “How to play with Woody from Toy Story.”

It’s fifth graders who joke with me, and get my sarcasm.

There’s the kindergartener I helped on the second day of school during the fire drill practice. He was scared, and I held his hand. Now every time I see him, he waves his hand intensely and calls “Hi! Ms. Ona!!!”

When I’m lucky, I get to see kids walk into school: Kindergarteners carrying huge backpacks, and paper trays overflowing with cafeteria breakfast, primary students waving goodbye to their siblings, fifth graders chatting with friends on the way upstairs.

I can’t tell if feeling this much heartbreak about kids that I’m lucky teachers share with me means that I’m in the right profession — or the wrong one.

Scattered Slice of Remote Coaching

Slice of LIfe

Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teacher

My butt hurts from so much sitting.

Remote Coaching.

Also, I have brain whiplash from so many transitions in one day.

Remote Coaching.

There’s something discombobulating about going from a meeting to meeting to meeting, switching gears and then POP! switching gears again to talk to Kindergarteners about how writers can write books with a bunch of pages, using words they know in a snap to write sentences!

Writing Sentences! Today Mr. Thought said something about the complex work I do each day, only he said it as I was repositioning the sticky note of the word is and at on my chart. I mean, definitely teaching kindergarten writing is a complex chart, but it was still ironic.

Then POP! Back to meetings about teaching and data and SLOs (and also can you believe they made this decision and do you know what is going on and why are things like this? Because teachers are breaking a little bit, friends…)

Then POP! Kids again.

Remote Coaching.

I don’t know if floobergated is a word you are familiar with, or just one of those words from my childhood, but I work hard to not be floobergated each day. Here are some tips if you happen to be a Remote Coach: *

  1. Reheat your coffee in between meetings, this is like a walk, even if it is to the microwave
  2. Don’t feel guilty if you have a gingersnap with that coffee
  3. Don’t feel guilty if it is actually 4 gingersnaps. They are almost like breakfast
  4. Stretch
  5. Breathe
  6. Drink water
  7. Text a friend in between meetings for music recommendations and play that music during any work times that you can have music playing in the backyard
  8. Plan walks with a friend for after your after school meetings. (Actually go on those walks too! Crunch acorns if you can)
  9. Keep a post it available to jot down any small thing that brings you joy (You don’t have to post videos of this joy but that is fun too)
  10. Drink more water

*Full Disclosure, I work hard to not get floobergated or discombobulated, but this does not actually mean I am successful at it.

Remote Coaching.

#FindTheJoy

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

I’m not saying that it’s quite as easy to find the joy each day, remotely.

Even before pandemic times
Before The Quarantine,
There were days.

Days when
meetings overtook
people were mean
things got canceled
I didn’t see a child,
(other than my own and they were grumpy that day, for sure)

There’s a reason I have a wine glass that says
#coachingainteasy

On those days,
Before pandemic times
Before Quarantine
I sometimes had to look for joy

And maybe I learned that looking for joy
is how you find it

Now it’s pandemic times
The Quarantine

Now I have to look for joy
It doesn’t pop up on its own and wave its hands in the air as often as normal
(“normal?”)

But it’s still important.
Because I’ve learned that looking for joy
is how you find it

Even if you are looking into your computer screen at little boxes
reading emails instead of faces
walking down your steps instead of around a school

Some people have reminded me that I don’t have to keep finding joy
posting videos, sharing every day
“It’s a pandemic!”
“Cut yourself some slack!”
“You don’t owe videos to anyone!”

But I do.
I owe it to myself
I owe it to myself to keep looking for joy

#findthejoy

(Check out my #findthejoy videos on Twitter and Facebook @OnaFeinberg … and join in! See what happens when you look for joy!)

#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.