Am I Really Coaching?
Posted by Dave Reid on December 3, 2020 at 3:15 PM
With the school year looking a little different than years past, you might find yourself asking the question "am I really coaching?" Learn from TeachBoost's own, Dave Reid, as he shares three twists on common coaching activities you can implement today beyond one-on-one coaching cycles.
s I write this, my toddler is re-enacting a racing scene from Disney's Cars on my leg, and I have to ask myself "am I really working?" It's hard not to feel like my personal and professional life continue to collide in some inescapable way as I juggle my roles as dad, teacher, TeachBoost-er.
I've heard stories about the coaches who have spent weeks printing and mailing work packets for students who don't have internet access; coaches who've become dedicated tech experts to teachers, students, and families in their districts; and coaches who do everything in their power to make sure their teams just feel emotionally safe. It's what's needed.
COVID has coaches trying to find new ways to connect with teachers or support their school in whatever way they can, and when I talk to instructional coaches across the country I often hear a similar refrain: "Am I really coaching?" The indomitable Keitha Hernandez, from Lockhart ISD, put together a great list of 3 of the many ways you're coaching when it may not feel like it.
If that's you, I want to say we know you're coaching—and we can prove it with these three twists on common coaching activities!
Team coaching can take many forms, grade teams, PLCs, workshops, PDs, or data review sessions. Typically, most team coaching will follow a loose structure:
- Clarify a purpose for the team. How does it fit into a bigger school, district or community goal?
- Identify the data points.
- Learn new strategies or procedures to tackle the challenge area.
- Follow-up to reflect on the implementation and plan for new strategies moving forward.
In a remote environment, this structure might bend or break a little bit. You might find that you're focused on quickly teaching a single strategy to a group via Zoom before they move on to the next thing. However, that is still coaching!
Team coaching like this can be a great way to start building relationships and momentum, especially with teachers who you haven't worked one-on-one with yet.
Campus coaching looks at your campus as a PLC and follows a familiar cycle of:
- Setting a larger-scale, campus-wide goal
- Conducting high-level walkthroughs or attending meetings
- Identifying next-step learning opportunities for the school community, and communicating them out.
You might be thinking: "Alright, Dave, I can't get in front of a team of teachers, much less one-on-one time with them, because I'm filling in gaps and putting out fires wherever they pop up at my school."
As the front-line person putting out those fires, you might be one of the best-suited individuals at your school to identify a campus-wide goal. Ask yourself:
- Where are these emergencies popping up?
- Are there any connections between them?
- Is there a goal that would benefit the campus at-large and help us prevent these fires before they begin?
Sitting down with a teacher, setting goals, collecting data, and reflecting one-on-one. This is probably the most traditional context for coaching that you're familiar with.
Setting goals around technology literacy and implementation will have huge impacts on a teacher's long-term growth. The more tech tools teachers have to integrate into their classroom settings (remote, hybrid, or in-person), the easier they'll be able to connect with an increasingly tech-literate student body.
I know that everyone's situation is a little different, and I can't even begin to account for all of the unexpected, unpredictable events that might pop up in your life as a coach. However, I believe if you can step back and answer the question, "Am I helping our teachers or students grow today?" you can answer the question, "Am I really coaching?" with an emphatic "YES!"