From 2008-2011, I served as a “math coach” in Pennsylvania. The position was grant-funded, and there were no guarantees (or expectations, frankly) that the position would last beyond the first year. The timing was perfect – I had been at home with my son for his first 3 little years, and we *both* were ready for a change of scenery. As he toddled off to daycare/preschool, I read “The Math Coach Field Guide” while I waited to be approved by the school board and start my new job. I was pumped!
My role was very specific, which helped a *lot* in defining my days. I worked primarily with teachers who were elementary certified and were teaching Pre-Algebra to grade 6 advanced students or Algebra 1 to grade 7 advanced students. I was there to help with content, lesson planning, creating resources and assessments, co-teaching, and modeling lessons. I administered, scored, and tracked assessment data. I worked with some of the kindest and most cooperative teachers around, from new-to-the-profession teachers to I’m-retiring-next-year teachers. We had a 1:1 laptop initiative at the time, which made the experience that much more amazing. The students were “our” students. Though I didn’t have my own classroom, I still felt that sense of relationship and ownership since my role was so focused.
We had a 6-day-cycle model, so I’d spend 3 consecutive days at each of the two schools I served, staying in contact with the teachers at the other campus, and sharing resources with them across town. It was a precious time in my career.
Year 3, the grant funding disappeared, but a unique set of circumstances found me serving at a third middle school in the same district the following fall. I thought my time of employment was ending, and instead, I had a new batch of teachers to work with. Every morning, I had my very own Algebra 1 class first period, and the rest of my day was dedicated to a math coaching role. This time, I worked with all math teachers in grades 6, 7 and 8 who’d have me, rather than only working with Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1. I worked in an emotional support class once a week and was treated like a celebrity. I worked with teachers who would love nothing more than for my perky self to exit their not-so-sunny space, teachers who embraced co-teaching from day 1, and teachers who were happy to have me stay by the sidelines as they ran 100% of the show 100% of the time. The classroom is a very personal space, and my role varied greatly from classroom to classroom, but I did my best.
I also started to remember how much I adored having my own classroom. That crew of Algebra 1 students that was *all mine* made me think that if my “coaching” days came to an end, it would be a welcome transition for me. And that’s exactly what happened the following year.
I credit my years as a “math coach” and my supervisor at the time, Julie Victory, with helping me see the value in blogging. I was required to keep a log of my days as documentation, and what began as merely a recorded schedule morphed into a reflective document that I still enjoy reading every now and again. The only math blogger I knew of during that timeframe was Dan Meyer, and even though I was composing a daily log, I never saw my daily happenings as worth sharing with a readership. In time, as blogging seemed to become more of a “thing” I landed here.
Every educator in a “coaching” position has a unique role and set of circumstances. I’ve wanted to compare notes with others who serve in this type of position, so I tossed a Google Form out to Twitter.
* Responders serve anywhere from 1 to 40 schools.
* About 1/3 of responders also teach their *own* students while roughly 2/3 of responders do not teach any classes of their own. (I always wonder about this – for me, having one class of my own every day made me feel so much more connected)
* Responders have many responsibilities!
Here’s the Google spreadsheet with snappy graphs in the tabs (compliments of @MrVaudrey – colorful charts are kind of his thing). At the time of this post, I had 13 unique responders, and I hope more folks contribute. I’d follow every one of these fine folks on Twitter if I were you. 🙂 Still want to contribute to the spreadsheet? Here’s the Google Form.