‘Hibernation’ was refreshing…it’s almost on to ‘spring’

One of many animals that hibernate...we've got tons of gophers here at the farm.

One of many animals that hibernate…we’ve got tons of gophers here at the farm.

I’m alive!

Seriously, though, even I could hear the cricket chirps coming from this blog.

I have been in a continuous cycle of writing and reflecting, but only a select group of people and I have been privy to my writing.  My master’s classes in Professional Development are nearing completion (only seven weeks to go!) and I feel like… a gopher, maybe (otherwise known as a Richardson Ground Squirrel).

The analogy begins with any hibernating animal.  Why hibernation?  For these animals, it’s a matter of survival.

  • weather changes are drastic
  • food is scarce

Check out 10 Animals That Hibernate if you’re curious.

I am like a wood frog.  My heart (for teaching) has in some ways gone back into action following this university hibernation.

I am like a deer mouse.  Their hibernation is called torpor, where they hibernate during the day with other deer mice and spend their nights in their regular pursuits.  My university hibernation had a reverse schedule.

I am like a gopher.  They apparently have awesome tunnels built with all the amenities (including bathrooms) and are said to go into hibernation “as a response to a change in their blood” (Conservation Institute, 2015).  I have spent many an hour studying in the comfy chair by our wood-burning fireplace.  And I felt compelled to do this work in order to do my coaching well.

This bear looks well-rested.

This bear looks well-rested.

I am like a bear.  Their hibernation is also more like a torpor, and they are easily woken.  During my university torpor, I was constantly being awakened to connections between my coaching and my course work.  I was able to focus on both because each helped the other.

Like all of these animals, I focused on the essentials during my university hibernation or torpor.  I worked hard.  I cared for our family.  I read. I wrote.  I slept.  And I did it all over and over again for the past 18 months.  No room for extras, like blogging.

Spring is springing around here, friends.  I’m feeling it.

And I can’t wait to move from this life-giving survival period into the new spring of my life.


Coaching Beliefs: The Value of Family

This book is inspiring, thoughtful...and covered in stickies.  (I borrowed it.)

This book is inspiring, thoughtful…and covered in stickies. (I borrowed it.)

I love our annual family camping trip!  It’s an opportunity to connect with my parents and my cousin in a very enjoyable, ‘don’t care if you didn’t shower today’ kind of way.  Our children love sleeping, cooking, and playing outdoors.  This year, we arrive at our destination and, after half a year of planning, deciding on menus and who’s bringing what, we realize that we’ve forgotten two or three key items and it starts raining.  And still, through it all, we are incomparably resourceful.  We are in it together, happy to be where we are, and each helping to make the experience unforgettable.

Mom and the boys making fresh saskatoon pancakes...under the rain tarp.

Mom and the boys making fresh saskatoon pancakes…under the rain tarp.

Dad cleaning bacon fat off the hot griddle.

Dad cleaning bacon fat off the hot griddle.

Before our trip began, I had gotten deep into reading my borrowed copy of The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar (John Wiley & Sons, 2013).  I knew that our annual camping trip was for family time but my family (God Bless them!) also knows me well enough to support my #Nerdcation.  In fact, Chapter 3: “Which Beliefs Help a Coach Be More Effective?” actually had me looking at my family and our time together influencing my instructional coaching.

Elena Aguilar (@elenaaguilar) highlights that

“An essential component of coaching is supporting others to become conscious of their belief systems – about children, learning, students of color, immigrants, and so on.  But before we can engage in this work, as coaches we need to become aware of our own beliefs.” (35)

She encourages coaches to identify their core values, and her website has a great exercise for doing just that. (39) So before packing began, I took the time to recognize my core values.  And (no surprise here) they came up as: family, happiness, and making a difference.

Elena very thoughtfully outlines what she calls her “Transformational Coaching Manifesto” (40).  Many things resonated with me; yet, I felt the need to translate my core values into some belief statements of my own.  So, although I’m not calling this a manifesto, I have come up with the following key beliefs.

1. We are in this together Just like a family, teachers/colleagues experience joy, sorrow, success, failure, togetherness, rifts.  My role as a coach parallels my role in our family; I am hear to encourage, support, listen, laugh with, and cry with.  And though we may not bring the same background experiences, coaches and teachers are connected with a common goal.  Families work together.  Families aren’t always perfect.  Families have a vested interest in each others’ success.  Just like I believe coaching relationships need to be.

2. We deserve to feel happiness in our hard work.  “Happiness is not something ready made.  It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama.  This resonates with me because happiness can be so easy or so difficult, if you let it.  Be thankful, be thoughtful, give to the world what you wish to receive, and happiness will be a powerful force in your life.

3. We can each make a difference. “We are all somewhere.  And we don’t have to stay there.” (Aguilar, 40)  I need to recognize the worth and potential each person brings to each situation, and help others to see that in themselves.  I do not want to be seen as the expert who can fix things; I want to be a resource to help people make the difference they are capable of making.

“Find out what’s really out there.  I never said to be like me, I say be like you and make a difference.” – Marilyn Manson

I look forward to building and reflecting on my beliefs.  I anticipate they will change and be challenged.  But half the joy of learning is the unexpected, right?

Thank goodness for family, camping, and opportunities to be challenged and grow.