With the lazy days of summer coming to a close and the excitement of a new school year upon us, what does one do as an instructional coach? There’s no classroom to prepare. There’s no open house to get ready for. There’s no planning team building for your class during those first few days of building relationships with kids (which I will forever miss!).
So, what does one do as an instructional prior to the start of the year? Before we hit the road running with meetings, professional development and building relationships with staff, one of the most powerful things you can do is to pause, quietly, and reflect on what you believe about teachers and coaching. This is important because coaching is not for the faint of heart. It is rewarding and it is tough. It is mid-level leadership where you are pulled many ways. Before you encounter the struggles, develop what you believe and let that guide your thoughts, discussions and actions.
What I believe about teachers:
- I believe every single teacher has a heart for kids. They have a yearning to do what’s best for kids and they care deeply about their success, happiness and growth.
- I believe every single teacher has something to offer, a talent, an approach, an attitude, a perspective that is needed.
- I believe that teachers want to grow professionally in some way. But, being a teacher for 10 years myself, I know that teachers are pulled a million different directions (at both school and at home). I vow to always gain perspective when there is resistance to professional opportunities.
- I believe I have something to learn from teachers. As a coach, I bring a unique opportunity to the table for growth, but I am always learning, everyday, from every interaction.
What I believe about coaching:
- Coaching is among the most effective ways to grow professionally. Not only does the research show this in the chart below, I have seen it happen in my partnerships with teachers. (And, more importantly, teachers have told me a student-centered coaching cycle is the best professional development they have received). Students make the most gains and there is the most transfer when the teacher and coach are working side by side in the classroom and at the planning table (as opposed to stand and deliver PD, and yes, even any PD you can get in the digital sphere).
2. Coaches are there to support teachers. Sometimes that support is through professional growth, but it’s also by lending a listening ear, because if you’ve ever taught, particularly in the last few years, teaching is tough and incredibly demanding. Teachers are asked to do so much and offering the validation that they’re doing great things is something I always want to bring to the table.
In your coaching ventures this year, you will encounter success. And, you will encounter great challenges and have to put on your leadership hat to decide how you’re going to handle a situation. Know what you believe and make those situations easier to handle.
Best wishes on a year of impacting teachers and kids!