How Can I Help?

The year I was a SAM, I answered my radio the same way: “How can I help?” I’ve always felt that this stance was the best stance, but over time I have realized that I need to do more than just to ask this question.

Now in my role, I need to approach with humility when working with others. This quote from Father Boyle pushed me to think about how I interact with the teachers I work with:

But you’re faithful to putting one foot in front of the next. And things evolve. And you add things like tattoo removal and therapy, and you listen because, you know, the stance is humility.

If you’re humble, you’ll ask the poor, what would help you? But if you’re led by hubris, then you tell the poor, here’s what your problem is; here’s how you fix yourself. And so Homeboy has sort of stayed humble in as much as it’s listened to the formerly gang-involved and has responded at every turn, what can we do that is concretely helpful

My stance and the stance I will encourage other teacher leaders to take is one of humility. When approaching other teachers with a directive stance, more than likely they will not do the X, Y and Z we suggested. Instead, we need to listen and respond to the need.

Another shift is to ask better questions when offering to work together. Instead of asking how can I help you with small group implementation, ask during small group implementation what surprises/challenges you? It shows vulnerability to ask for help, but it easier when we respond with good questions. Or even better, offer help before being asked. My favorite is I have a mini-lesson planned so you can go visit the teacher down the hall, let me know when and if you need me to teach your class so you can do that.

The reading/listening that prompted this post:



Dear Readers, I know it’s been a while. I could give you a multitude of excuses, but in reality, I created new habits that were easy (reading and surfing the internet after the little ones go to bed). Tonight, I made an effort to get back into the habit of writing. The reason I bring this up is. We all have practices that fall back on.

For example, at the beginning of my teaching career, I called on volunteers. As time and learning occurred, I knew that I needed to call on non-volunteers as well, so I went ahead created systems for that. If I lost track of my system, I would fall back into my routine of calling on volunteers only. A couple of days of repeating my old habit, it felt like I had never stopped.

I share this example with you because I have learned in working with teachers want to change their practice, but they have their own habits and over 16 years watching teachers that they must contend with. In Learning by Doing, Rick Dufour suggests that how a teacher taught a topic last year and not individual reflection will determine how it will be taught this year.

How do we push back on our habits? We collectively reflect on our lesson with our peers. We create a culture of peer accountability. We celebrate our successes. I promise you with enough teamwork, we can shift our practice to help our students learn.