This morning, I had the pleasure of spending an hour (which wasn't nearly long enough) with a good friend of mine who happens to be one of the most incredible teachers I know. For the sake of this post, we will refer to her as Molly. (random name choice - seriously random, #weird) Molly and I have known each other for about five years now. She was the one who took me under her wing when I was hired to teach next door to her in a dirt bag portable as we referred to our classrooms. My first summer in the Bay Area, Molly toured me around Chinatown, all over SF, and throughout Marin. We discovered some favorite restaurants, we began a healthy latte addiction, and we even forced our husbands to become friends. Over the course of our teaching careers together (a short lived three years before I plunged into admin), I found Molly to be like no other teacher I had ever worked with. She truly knew how to create a classroom community. Molly taught her students to trust one another, she got down and dirty with them, and when one of those little seven year old faces looked at her with wide eyes, she knew exactly what that child needed.
Today, in my coffee conversation with Molly, I missed those days. I especially missed those days because Molly is having a challenging school year. One of those years where a couple of students are really making learning difficult for the majority of the class. I'm not talking about a little extra "boy energy" or a few "blurters," I'm talking about some REAL challenges. There wasn't much I could say or do to make Molly feel better as she vented about her failed attempts to get support and help from just about anyone who would listen to her. But what I was able to tell Molly, was that I don't think the people around her know her well enough. If they did, if they REALLY knew Molly, they would know that when she asks for help, she is all out of tricks. If they really knew Molly, they would know that when she calls out for assistance, she is down on her knees pleading for support. If they really knew Molly, they would know her students as well, because they would have been IN her classroom watching and learning.
I could go on and on about Molly, her class, and where I feel there have been breakdowns along the way in the "systems" that are in place, but what I really walked away with after our conversation was a huge reminder for myself. A reminder to stop and listen to those around me who might be asking for help. A reminder to stop and watch for colleagues who may be in need of extra support. A reminder that it's my responsibility to know the people I work with so that when I see them struggling, I will hopefully be able to catch a glimpse of it in their eyes and know how to intervene.
99 days out of 100 I love being a principal. But today, I just wanted to be a 2nd grade teacher, back in my old dirt bag portable, waving to Molly through the window. I wanted her to see my face smiling at her, reminding her that she is wonderful, that she can do this. For now, I guess I'll have to settle for the lesson she left me with...to listen and watch with intention.