Once you've established your role with the principal and created your partnership agreement, it's time to create one with the teachers you support. Lindsay Deacon, a school improvement coach in Portland, Oregon, is back with part two of her partnership agreements to teach you how to do just that. 👍
very coach has the power to send a positive ripple effect across an entire school by helping teachers improve their craft and cheerlead, champion, and advocate for them as professionals. Yet, in over a decade as a coach and working alongside other coaches, I have observed frustration with a role that's often nebulous, misunderstood, and sometimes even resented by school staff. And I, too, have experienced a deep sense of frustration and isolation in different coaching roles.
So then, how can a coach set up the ideal conditions for sustained, long-term impact on student achievement while also enjoying their day-to-day work? It unequivocally begins with everyone in the building having a clear understanding of the role.
In part 1, we talked about the value of setting up time with your principal to discuss the best coaching practices, gradually broaden the principal's knowledge base, and create a partnership agreement in collaboration. Now, it's time to follow the same process with those you'll be supporting: the teachers!
It cannot be stressed enough that if teachers do not understand the purpose and general responsibilities, the coach's effectiveness will suffer. Without that clarity, teachers will not know how and why to access the coach and may sometimes even develop animosity toward them.
Just as teachers have their style of working with students, each coach will have a unique way of working with teachers. Below I'll walk through how you can create a partnership agreement between you and a teacher.
Getting started with teacher and coach agreements
1) Create a coaching menu
Create a simple menu or 1-pager of your coaching services that include office hours, contact information, and ideas for working with you.
2) Draft your partnership agreement
If you are a new coach and find this process intimidating—that's normal! Select one or two teachers that you have a trusting relationship with first. Say, "Would you be willing to test out a new tool with me? Your feedback would be really helpful as I get started as a coach." Then, when you meet with teachers for the first time, bring your menu and a blank copy of the Developing Coach/Teacher Partnership Agreements to outline clearly how you and the teacher will work together.
When crafting these working agreements with teachers, you can let them know that a very similar set of role agreements were already drafted with the principal to address confidentiality, communication, and so on. This process treats teachers as professionals, communicates that you take their work seriously, and sets an expectation that you are not just there to help with an email password or substitute during an emergency.
When a coach focuses on developing their coaching identity and finding multiple ways of advertising how they partner with teachers, they will be able to focus more time on the business of coaching.
No one wants to do something they're forced into, so if teachers feel that coaching is mandatory in your school, you'll need to shift that perception. Instead of attempting to wrestle several teachers into working with you, make coaching something that is special and select. Approach a teacher (or two) and ask them if you can practice new coaching strategies to get you started.
Word of mouth is compelling, and once others hear about your coaching, they will want to know more about working with you.
As Jim Knight recommends, "consider yourself a positive virus that spreads good news and feelings in your school community." Treat each interaction with positivity and warmth so that others will feel inspired to carry the same uplifting feeling in their interactions later on.
About our Guest Blogger
Lindsay has a passion for coaching and currently serves as a school improvement coach, leadership coach, and soccer coach in Portland, Oregon. She is also the co-author of The EduCoach Survival Guide (2020).
Be sure to follow Lindsay on Twitter @TheRealLindsay2 and @edu_survival.