For years I’ve wrestled with this question: How can one maintain autonomy and authenticity while teaching lessons written by someone else?
On the quest to discover wisdom around this, I found Teach Like Yourself by Gravity Goldberg. This book would be a good read for anyone in the educational ecosystem. The heart of this book is about helping the reader find their educational true north; this is a good idea for everyone whether you are a teacher, administrator, coach, etc.
Here’s what resonated the most for me:
First, Brené Brown. Her research and life’s truths are woven artfully throughout Goldberg’s original thinking. If you are a Brené follower, you will feel her spirit ebb and flow from start to finish.
Early on in the book, Goldberg gives specific exercises to help the reader define their core beliefs. I found this so helpful. The world of education (and the world in general) feels like sand shifting under our feet. Once you define your why and your values, everything comes into focus. You have your yardstick by which to measure. This also reminded me of Brené’s words around having a “soft front, hard back”. This refers to the idea that we show up vulnerably and open to connection (soft front) while at the same time standing firm and living into our values (strong back). When we define and crystalize what we believe, our legs become sturdier underneath us, better abled to weather the undulating earth beneath us.
Another fascinating section of the book teaches us how to “prime for power.” This is a mental exercise that helps you shift your thinking into a place of power rather than a place of powerlessness. It is really a mindfulness exercise and reminds me that we can choose how we think. This is both comforting and empowering.
The job title I currently hold says “instructional coach”. Goldberg talks at length about how teaching is selling, and I was giving her all the head nods and yesses. My husband is in sales and marketing, and long ago I made the connection that my job is really to sell myself, sell my services, and sell our curriculum. So, when Goldberg went there, I went right along with her. She references ideas from blogger and educator Larry Ferlazzo around two ways to sell: irritation vs. agitation. He says that irritation is trying to get people to do something that we want them to do. Agitation, on the other hand, is figuring out what they want to do and motivating them to do that thing. This is the core of my work as a coach, so it felt very affirming that really smart people are saying that teaching is selling and that helping people with their own goals is more impactful than imposing outside goals upon them.
This was a thought-provoking, easy, and fairly quick read that I’d recommend to anyone.
Read this book if…
…you are feeling unanchored.
…you want to feel more confident in your own teaching skin.
…you need to find your motivation to teach again.