Sunday, October 30, 2011

Elevator speech

Business people say that everyone should have an elevator speech ready to explain what you do at your job. By elevator speech, they meant a short synopsis of your career that could be explained to a stranger in the time it takes to rise a few floors on an elevator.

I’ve tried for a few years to come up with my elevator speech and when people ask what I do I’ve said such things as, “Well, I’m a coach, but not an athletic coach. I sort of cheer teachers on.” But that’s not right. Or, “I’m a teacher of teachers – I help them find the best instructional strategies for the classroom.” But that implies that I’m the one with all the knowledge, when in fact I’ve learned as much from other teachers as I’ve taught them. It’s certainly not, “I walk the halls and make sure teachers have what they need and do what they should” or “I basically wait around in my office until someone comes to ask me a question or cry on my shoulder.” Describing coaching can be hard.

But then the other day we had a business associate of my husband’s over for dinner and rather than ask, “What grade do you teach?” when he found out I was in education, he asked, “What do you do?” I surprised myself by saying, “My job is about change. I offer teachers support as they change their practice.”

That’s about as succinct as it gets. Coaching is about change. It’s about nudging change to happen, supporting it as it does, questioning when it doesn’t, and celebrating when it succeeds.

What’s your elevator speech?

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