It didn’t matter whether the distinctions were exact but rather that the children understood that there are various ways to go about exploring questions.
(p. 69) That’s a very “free-ing” statement, one that I remember feeling quite often as I read books from the various New York teachers connected to Teacher’s College or Denver’s PEBC – things like, you don’t have to complete a picture book all in one sitting, or it’s ok not to have literacy centers, or think of your day as a menu of options rather than a to-do list. Too often, nowadays, it seems teachers don’t hear enough free-ing statements, and instead feel more tied down by regulations and expectations.
Heard’s quote above caused me to think about my work as a coach as well. In the same way that she and Jen didn’t worry about the correctness of their students’ responses right away and instead gave them room to find them on their own, as a coach my concern should not be that teachers correctly implement a teaching strategy right away as much as it should be about giving them room to think about and explore it on their own. Coaching is more about the conversations we have about our teaching, not a search for one correct way of doing it. If these first graders had the freedom to grow their own confidence in their abilities as researchers, then shouldn’t teachers feel that same freedom to explore what works with kids? I did that for years as a teacher in a school without a coach, and the role I’d have liked the coach to serve would not have been as “fount of knowledge” but rather sounding board for successes and failures; a conversation partner about teaching.
There’s never only one way to do something. As coaches we should be able to encourage teachers to take different paths to common outcomes.