20 April 2008

Other Duties, Not Assigned

I told my principal this week that I was finally starting to feel "coachy." I've had a few people ask me for some specific support in the classroom---which is really what I want to do. I've been in the building for a couple of months now. People have gotten to know me enough that they feel comfortable letting me take the reins of their classes or wanting me to help in other ways. I like doing these things. I often wish I had a coach at the school where I teach---I'd love some help going from good to great.

But there are other things I am being asked to do, too, that I'm not really sure are within my provenance. I can't give any specifics; however, in general, these requests typically take the form of one teacher who is concerned about another and is asking me to do something about that. Now, I know that if the principal was to do that (which he never has)---I'd have to decline. That sets up a truly terrible agenda. "Hi, I'm here because our boss thinks that your teaching stinks and I'm supposed to fix it." Um, no thanks. However, if he encouraged a struggling teacher to seek me out for help, that's a different situation because the teacher is in control and gets to choose. After all, I'm the teacher's tool. The teacher to teacher requests feel murky to me. For now, I'm making decisions on a case-by-case basis. It's hard because people mention things with good intentions (to keep a peer from being frustrated or going down a path that may get them into trouble), but I don't know that I am really the one they should tell...let alone the right person to deal with the issue. However, I also don't feel like I can say, "It's not my job." If I'm there to support them, shouldn't I do what I can to make life in the classroom less of a drag?

I have lots of great coaching resources. There are all manner of books, websites, conference notes/handouts, and so on that provide a lot of insight about how to support classroom instruction. (There's also a nice article on instructional coaching here, if you're intrigued by the idea.) But there is nothing out there to talk about these unassigned duties others expect you to take on...the etiquette of it all. I'm hoping that I am using my powers for good, all the while wishing that job descriptions created clear---rather than fuzzy---edges around things.

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