Welcome Ariana Cate Mermelstein!!!!!
First, I want to let all of my friends and colleagues know that my daughter Ariana Cate Mermelstein was born on December 25th, 2012 at 4:15. She was 6 pounds and 15 ounces of pure joy! I couldn’t have asked for a better holiday gift!
I’m going to try and blog while I’m home. The focus at the moment will be on the connections between this new adventure I’m embarking on, and my ongoing work with teachers and kids in schools.
I will apologize upfront…I’m sure there will be typos and things that don’t quite make sense as I’m doing this all of the while trying to learn how to care for my beautiful daughter, but I’ve decided that you all will forgive me and we can enter into an interesting conversation despite this :)))).
When people ask me how I am feeling 8 days into having my daughter, I say wonderful, terrifying and humbling all at once.
The word humbling keeps coming back to me because I’m finding that there is a huge learning curve in caring for my beautiful daughter.
I thought I was prepared but I feel clumsy at all of it.
Feeding her, burping her, bathing her, calming her–even putting on her t-shirts (there are way too many snaps–and those snaps somehow were easier when there wasn’t a squirmy little girl involved) none of it I feel good at it.
But I do know I will get there and putting her t-shirt on incorrectly will not kill her!
In those hard moments I say the thing that I say to the teachers I work with: This is not brain surgery, most of our mistakes are fine, and we just do it differently in the future and move on.
There will be a moment in the day when I think I’m getting it and I feel so proud and then well..not so much.
In true ‘Leah’ style I decided that if I wanted to get better at this I needed a coach so I hired a baby nurse to help me for the first 3-4 weeks.
Pat, my baby nurse, has been a complete saint and is taking care of me and the baby.
She is a teacher at heart and told me that she has not done her job if I don’t feel comfortable doing all of this on my own when it’s time for her to leave. In about 7 days she leaves for a day and I try it on my own (independent baby time 🙂 )
But for now she is essentially ‘staff developing’ me.
What has been fascinating is I am now on the other side of staff development.
Usually, I am the one helping others to improve their craft. Now I am the one being helped.
The switch is very humbling and very affirming to what I believe about staff development in schools.
I want to leave you with one thought around this idea today.
Pat has been doing a lot of demonstration for me…specifically demonstrating how to properly swaddle a baby, and how to give Ariana a proper sponge bath. Of course I need to see how she does it so the demonstration was absolutely essential. But when the demonstrations continued for too long I started to feel very inept.
Pat is just so good and natural at caring for a baby that the demonstrations began to make me feel bad because I know I will not be nearly as good as her at this moment.
How many times have teachers said to me that I make everything look so easy? Pat does the same thing to me.
In my own staff development, I urge schools to move from demonstration quickly and being on the other side of staff development I couldn’t agree more with the idea that demonstration should be a very temporary method in a staff development plan for a school.
The problem is the longer Pat demonstrates and I just watch, the more nervous and inept I’m going to feel. I knew that I needed to take the plunge and start doing more, rather than just watching. I knew that I needed Pat to coach me into independence.
In the same vein, schools should move quickly from demonstration to coaching!
I understand that for some demonstration is a way more comfortable method but is it more effective????
In my situation, I knew I would learn more if I was doing it myself and Pat was coaching me. I asked her if we could move to the coaching model…I told her I knew I would mess up but I also knew I would not kill her. She agreed and now I’m doing it while she coaches me. I must say I am feeling more and more comfortable because although I am making mistakes (Yes, I used her dirty t-shirt for a moment during the sponge bath, no big deal I just cleaned her over again with a clean wash cloth) I am seeing quickly that I can do it. I don’t think I would have made the same strides if I was just watching her.
An interesting thought to ponder for those of who like to see demonstrations or who demonstrate for long periods of time in your positions in schools…
I know my audience is filled with teachers, staff developers, coaches and principles (and others as well) and I hope this starts a conversation about ways that coaches and consultants should work in schools. I know that when I leave Ariana and come back to work (gulp!!) I will be even more adamant that demonstration should not be used over a long period of time because it tends to make people feel intimated by the person who is demonstrating.
Please know I will read all comments but probably won’t be able to respond the way I usually do. I hope that silence moves you all to keep the conversation going with one another….fingers crossed 🙂
Until next time.