Tagged: new job

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Back from summer vacation, ready for the new school year

favicon Hi again! I hope all of you had a great summer and are ready for the new school year. I am! It’s been a busy summer. But it’s also been fun to relax and recharge.

Let me catch you up.

The biggest news is that my partner and I moved from San Francisco to New York. After spending my entire life in the Bay Area (except for a year in graduate school and several summers in other cities), I wanted to try out a new adventure. It’s a little crazy — and some of my friends and family have made sure I know this — but so far, I’m feeling great feeling stretched.

Unfortunately, the move meant having to leave the great job I had last year as an instructional coach. Though I don’t reveal my employers on this site (to honor their policies regarding technology use), I can say that it was tough to leave the teachers with whom I worked. Together we made significant progress in figuring out what it means to teach high school students how to approach reading in a new, joyful, visible way.


The good news is, I was able to find a new job here in New York that is extremely similar. Instead of working at four schools, however, I will work exclusively with teachers at one school in the Bronx. Along with another instructional coach, my role is to promote the teaching of literacy across the curriculum and to help develop teachers’ confidence in teaching specific reading strategies.

The only major difference (as I see it, though this might change) is that I’ll likely be working with more beginning and inexperienced teachers than I did last year. My preference, of course, is to work with veteran teachers (for many reasons). It’s more easily and immediately fun. Yes, that’s selfish. Nevertheless, I also understand how crucial it is for teachers to receive high-quality coaching at the beginning of their careers. I remember my mentors in Cambridge and Fremont, and I hope to return the support and inspiration I received.

The weird part is, I always have trouble starting at a new job. Maybe that’s one reason I stuck around my San Francisco school for 12 years. (There are many other reasons, too!) It’s hard for me to get to know people; they probably feel the same thing about me. Doubts creep up: Um, do I really know anything about literacy, anyway? Where’s my credential? What makes me think that the teachers will find me helpful? I’m no expert, after all.

But over time, I trust, things will smooth out and take care of themselves.

Sort of rambling here, but I’ll leave you with one last thing (and go into more depth in an upcoming post). The Kindle Classroom Project has seen steady growth over the summer, and I’m happy to report that I’ll be receiving the 70th Kindle in the next few days!

All of the Kindles safely made the transcontinental move, and I’m eager to get them ready for the new students. Why didn’t the Kindles stay in San Francisco and Oakland? After tons of thought, I decided the program would be stronger if I’m nearby. Keeping all the Kindles up and running — not to mention the ebook library — takes constant care, and troubleshooting across the country just didn’t sound right. I look forward to meeting with the ninth grade teachers at my new school to get them hugely excited about getting their students involved.

I am also very happy that some of my passion for reading will not leave the Bay Area. My friend and former colleague Nancy Jo Turner, who works in Berkeley and is an excellent! excellent! ninth grade teacher, has agreed to take care of my physical book library and to launch a significant independent reading program with her students. She just completed cataloging the books — there are 512 in total! I can’t wait to share her updates from her classroom.

Update: I’ve decided to move back to San Francisco. More details in a future post.

So there it is, a rough update about what’s been going on this summer. I look forward to hearing from you, loyal Iserotope readers, and to share with you more stories this year. Let me know what you’d like to read about! favicon

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Coaching so far: Way easier, not as fulfilling

favicon People have been asking: “So how’s your new job?”

I like it. I get to work with teachers and talk about reading all the time. Plus, there’s no anxiety on Sunday nights. Or papers to grade. Or parent phone calls to make. And I can go to the bathroom whenever I want.

But so far, coaching is not nearly as fulfilling as teaching. Whereas teaching is too much and too fast, coaching has been too little and too slow.

A quick comparison:

Teaching: 5-15 minutes of free time per day
Coaching: 60-90 minutes of free time per day

Teaching: 100+ human contacts per day
Coaching: 5-10 human contacts per day

Teaching: 1-2 hours of anxious feelings per day
Coaching: 1-2 minutes of anxious feelings per day

Teaching: 60 hours of work per week
Coaching: 40 hours of work per week

Teaching: 2-5% chance that something crazy will happen at any moment
Coaching: 0% chance that something crazy will happen at any moment

So what do you think? The comparison makes it seem like coaching is the better gig, right? For this year, the answer is definitely yes. I needed a slower pace so that I can pause for a bit and focus on where this reading thing will take me.

But there’s a simultaneous empty feeling. After 15 years, I miss the classroom, and I miss the students, and I miss the directness-of-purpose that teaching affords.

It’s been just three weeks, and I’m sure that coaching will pick up. But I’m afraid that it won’t be “enough.” The problem is, Full-time teaching is “too much.” favicon

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My Kindle reads me the news in my car

favicon Now that I have a new job, I’m commuting for the first time in 10 years. My Kindle is keeping me company in the car and reading me The New York Times.

For the past few years, I’d been forced to listen to sports radio while driving. That’s because my car stereo was broken, attached manually with Scotch tape, and capable of playing just one station. Thanks, Mom, for the new one!

Having my Kindle read to me in the morning — using its text-to-speech function and Calibre’s “fetch news” feature — is a great way to spend my 30 minutes in the car.


Sure, the computerized voice takes some time to get used to, but now I find it smooth and reassuring. And yes, I could get through news faster if I read it myself silently — which I used to do, illegally, while driving — but that’s a safety hazard, plus it makes my fellow commuters quite angry and honk a lot.

Here’s a scintillating, 14-second audio snippet of yesterday’s session!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Advanced Tip: The Kindle Keyboard, I’ve found, is the best Kindle for in-car text-to-speech. Somehow its speakers are louder and more conducive to the car’s auxiliary jack.

Let me know if you’d like more details about how to set this up. (My friends think I’m crazy, by the way, but that’s not especially new.) favicon