Finally, my first day of school for this year’s Classroom Coaching commitment. I’m assigned to three girls, Alise, Anna and Katrina (not their real names). Anna and Katrina were my students last year too, so I’ve been looking forward to reconnecting with them. To tell the truth, I may have gone overboard with anticipation in the past few weeks. Last May as we approached the end of the school year, I was tearful every time I thought of saying good-bye. I’d really formed a tight bond with these girls. I wrote them a poem about our year of reading and learning together, but was too choked up to read it to them. I just pushed it into their hands and wished them a great summer.
When I learned that we would coach in seventh grade this year and that I would get to work with “my girls” again I was overjoyed. I started mentally rehearsing our reunion; we’d up where we left off, old friends who’d been away for the summer. We’d talk about our adventures since we’d last seen each other. They’d fill me in on the wonders and challenges of seventh grade. And we three musketeers would welcome Alise into our tight circle of friends. And most important, we’d embark on another year of exploring poetry and fiction, history and science together.
I was near tears as we approached the classroom. It was chaotic when we came through the door; the coaches slid through the maze of desks and tables to settle with their teams. I approached my group, ready to receive their delighted smiles when they recognized it was me. I introduced myself to Alise and turned to Anna and Katrina. They seemed unaffected by my arrival.
“Hey guys, I’ve missed you. How was your summer?” I asked.
“OK,” replied Anna. Katrina shrugged her shoulders.
“Tell me something exciting you did this summer,” I coaxed.
“I got my fifth dog,” offered Alise.
“Oh, fun,” I said. “Is it a puppy?”
Alise lit up as she told me about her menagerie.
“Anna, how about you? What fun things did you do this summer?”
“Really? Not one fun thing happened all summer?”
She shrugged and looked away.
I leaned in towards Katrina, who loves to be in the center of things. She was sure to entertain me.
“Nah, it was boring,” she said.
Then I got it. These were seventh graders now. Too cool for coach. I shifted gears and we started the lesson on analyzing poetry. Alise played along, but Anna and Katrina seemed distracted, more interested in the rest of the room than our little team. Perhaps I’ll be competing with the lure of boys in the room this year. Finally, when I felt certain I could keep their attention no longer, the bell rang. Chairs shuffled, students dashed for the door. Katrina paused and turned back to me. She gave me a high five and smiled.
“See you next week,” I said, smooth as glass.
Pat Abrams, Executive Director