Doug Johnson just posted a thoughtful reflection on the benefits he received from his guides during a recent hiking trip. He praised them because they (and I quote):
1. Pushed us to do things we might not have done on our own.
2. Modeled things that encouraged us to do things we might not have done.
3. Showed us things we might not have found.
4. Demonstrated technical proficiency/best practices.
5. Smoothed the way.
He concludes by saying:
Why does learning in school have to be so disagreeable to so many students and teachers when we all know learning itself can be about the most fun one can have under the right circumstances. Maybe a little more guiding and a little less “teaching” might make even school a better place.
We school librarians are a strange breed: we are leaders, but also peers. We have administrative functions but also teach and do clerical tasks. But this list reminds me of the power of our role as professional development coaches as well. We have to know what we’re doing (#4), make transitions easier for our colleagues (#5), model a desired outcome (#2) in order to move colleagues (#1), in large to small ways, toward even better instructional practices (#3). And we have to do it all without appearing to be a know-it-all, a bossy personality, or a shill.
It’s a delicate balance but, when we get it right, it’s powerful.