As a system, as a profession, as a community of teacher leaders we’re all grappling with the social, political and economic divisions that seem to have sharpened into focus these last few months. And I, like so many others, am challenged to pause and to reflect on my past actions, my current practices and my plans for future steps that will interrupt the inequities that are prevalent across our landscape. District leaders, teacher leaders and instructional coaches are deepening their conversations to interrupt, to cause pause, to “strategically guide others on a learning journey” (E. Agular) to ultimately ignite action that will address what has long been so ingrained in our curriculums and systems.
It’s a long road ahead, full of many mountains to climb, where often the hardest step will be the first. In my work with instructional coaches I hear of “analysis-paralysis” where systems get stuck admiring the problems from every angle resulting in no action for change. But, I also hear of courageous conversations and actual movement when small teams of teachers are ignited and are taking personal steps to make change from the ground up in their classrooms. I admire how instructional coaches and teacher-leaders guide these teams by being present, by asking difficult questions and by cooperatively navigating the journey.
Together I believe we can do this work and ignite movement and build for lasting change. But where can we turn for resources or tools that can support these conversations or self-reflection? How can we be a catalyst for the movement from talk to action within our systems? Instructional coaching and mentoring has played a role in my professional career as long as I can remember. I often find myself researching and seeking answers that I can pass along to others with whom I work. Most recently, I’ve come across Elena Aguilar’s Coaching for Equity – Conversations that Change Practice. Although I’ve just begun digging into the text (Elena reads Chapter 1 aloud here) and resources, I’ve already discovered some influential and thought-provoking tools that may be exactly what so many need right now to get started.
Coaching for equity
If we hope to interrupt educational inequities and create schools in which every child thrives, we must open our hearts to purposeful conversation and hone our skills to make those conversations effective. With characteristic honesty and wisdom, Elena Aguilar inspires us to commit to transforming our classrooms, lays bare the hidden obstacles to equity, and helps us see how to overcome these obstacles, one conversation at a time.
Amidst the tumultuous landscape of various instructional delivery models, many teachers are losing sleep over their concerns for their students. Their minds are filled with thoughts and reflections about their own actions and classrooms. Many are grappling with equity questions: Am I reaching all of my students? Am I seeing them as individuals? Am I honoring their stories?. As I work to reflect on my own actions and to grow my instructional practices, I’m starting with a deep read of Elena Aguilar’s Coaching for Equity. If you’re grappling with equity questions or tapping into Elena Aguilar’s equity work, I’d love to connect with you. Together we can work to begin to interrupt the inequities that exist around us.
When we have the courage to walk into our story and own it, we get to write a brave new ending.