First Year Tech Coach- Part 1

So in starting this school year as a brand new tech coach, I had BIG dreams. That’s really my personality – to think big, have big plans, and I want to drag everyone along with me, because who wouldn’t want to dream big as well- right? Well…. I am slowly learning (in multiple areas of my life) about how different the personality traits really are, and what that can look like in daily life. And how seriously I need to SLOW DOWN.  I feel like I should have learned this much earlier on in my career/ life but so goes it…. You think you know things, right?! So I’m learning about my own faults, and the pros and cons of each personality type. This really all came to a head at the beginning of fall when my husband and I took a “Spiritual gifts” survey as well as the DISC personality quiz at church. We have always joked about how exactly opposite we are, but here it was on paper- black and white. I started to look more in detail at our personality traits, and we both noticed the complaints we have for each other’s traits (which were verified right in front of us) could be used for good! It made me take a good, long, hard look at myself, and the parts of my personality that might get in the way of what I’m trying to do as a successful coach. It also opened my eyes to how we think of certain personalities as being “bad” or “good” when really each person has both sides of their traits. For example, that person who some see as overbearing or demanding- they get things done! And the person who some see as nit-picky or taking too long, will have a phenomenal finished product that is well thought out. More about DISC here– there’s tons of resources out there. Full disclosure- I’m mainly an “I”, and yes, I talk too much.


As I’ve gone through this first semester with these thoughts in mind, and learned even more about different personalities (such as the fact that I’m a toaster- I think out loud, and quick- whereas others may be crock-pots- need time to think alone and come back with answers later) I’ve really learned to appreciate each type. Every single teacher has amazing gifts, experiences, and ideas to bring to the table and it’s exciting getting to be a part of that and share in their successes in the classroom.

I was told going in to this year- take it slow, you will need all year to get to know people, let them get comfortable with you, etc. I am only just realizing how true this is. Because of my personality, I expected this part of the process to go much quicker, and that I would be seamlessly integrated in multiple classrooms by the spring. I mean, I love to talk to people so getting to know and trust me wouldn’t take long right? (Wrong!) I didn’t realize it’s about so much more than that. I also didn’t realize how much I would struggle with making myself available. I’m constantly learning new tips and tricks, and getting invaluable practice with my fellow coaches. I really look forward to using the things I’m learning about communication and leadership in the coming months. Funny how very little of what I’ve learned this semester has to do with technology! I have learned a LOT of that too- but honestly that part of the job is not changing me as a person. The leadership and communication tools I’m integrating in my daily life is the best part of the job yet!

Oh, and I do still have big dreams- but now I’m dreaming WITH the teachers.   🙂

Tell me:

– Have you analyzed your own weaknesses and strengths at some point?
– What have you learned this year that was not part of your “plan”?

Comment below or tweet @mrslacysmith  #firstyeareveryyear  #ETcoach #InstructionalCoach

First year in Texas… with 8th graders!

In my 9 years of education I have only ever taught 5th and 6th grades. I did teach a ½ year with 7th right out of college (YIKES). My first few years I taught every subject to 5th grade, and since then I’ve been happily geeking out in science class with my 6th graders.

You know how they say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone….I THOUGHT I would love 8th grade, I THOUGHT I’d love to have a class that was separated by academic achievement…. I THOUGHT.


Last summer my family and I moved to Texas for a variety of reasons. I was thrilled when I got a job teaching 8th grade science. I had been wanting 8th graders for the last few years. My 6th graders were still SO dependent, needed lots of help, laughed at fart jokes, etc. I was looking forward to the more mature 8th graders…. I know, I know! I was also thrilled to learn there were Pre-AP classes and Academic classes (like Honors or AP, but for middle schoolers). I knew I would have a little bit of a learning curve in addition to learning a new campus, new district policies and culture, new teachers, new curriculum (some), NEW, NEW, NEW.

I felt like a FIRST YEAR TEACHER all over again! (Hence the name of this blog.)

Guess what? 8th graders are just older, more hormonal 6th graders! The jokes are nastier, my mean face/ voice that worked fine in 6th wasn’t nearly the level needed, and they needed just as much, if not MORE help! It really threw me for a loop- I mean, I’m supposed to be a veteran teacher just about…. I’m supposed to have it together!  My amazing science coach showed me lots of grace and humor, and we plowed through with the good work: (aligning assessments, backwards design, student tracking standards, blended and personalized learning- you know, all the stuffs). Spoiler alert- I did live in the end. It was QUITE a year of reflection and here are my take-aways.

  1. IMG_3497
    8th graders like to share their proud moments too 🙂

    Kids are kids are kids- they all have their pros and cons at each age. They ALL need your love and hugs. I mothered the 8th graders just as much as I mothered the 6th.

  2. You have never “arrived”. We say this in church a lot and it fits here too. You will ALWAYS be growing and that’s what inspired this blog. Every year should be your first year to do something new and different.
  3. Kids shouldn’t be separated into pre-AP and academic at this point- maybe high school. It MAY be beneficial to the pre-AP kids but it’s a disservice to the others. (In my district anyone can be in Pre-AP class if they want to, there’s no “qualifying criteria” so you end up with kids who don’t belong pulling the others down, and sometimes kids don’t go to pre-AP because they don’t want to work even though they are quite intelligent. Personal opinion: leave them mixed until high school)
  4. I REALLY missed my silly 6th grade babies (yes I call them babies- not in their presence- I say ma’am and sir to them in class). I’ll take their silly jokes, fidget spinners, and slime obsessions any day over 8th grade vulgarities!


Tell me:

         Have you ever had an unexpected “WHOA” experience that made you feel like a first year teacher again? Tell me about it!

Comment below or tweet @mrslacysmith #firstyeareveryyear