February 2020 Instructional Coaching Must-Reads

Must reads header - February 2020

Spread some ❤️ for the best articles in February's weekly coaching roundups! Learn why one coach focuses on building relationships with new staff right away, a few critical issues that can get in the way of adult learning, how another IC satisfies her teachers' coaching appetites with tasty treats topped with puns, and more! 🍬

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The Importance of Building Relationships with New Teachers

Working with some new teachers? Paige Bergin shares how she focuses on building relationships with new staff right away, and some tips to make that easier.

"I have come to value our new hires in a different regard than the teachers I have a history with. New hires need something different from me as their coach. I have to establish a relationship with them where they feel comfortable and safe being vulnerable with me. I need to be able to see potential blind spots, and rather than just telling them, to help them figure it out for themselves. They need to see me as someone who is not an evaluator, but a partner in the process."

6 Obstacles Facing Instructional Coaches

Peter DeWitt identifies a few critical issues that get in the way of adult learning and meaningful coaching work.

"Teachers do not always feel the need to work with a coach because they see it as a slight on their own expertise, and coaches may have the understanding of instructional strategies and learning but may not understand how to best approach teachers. . . . If we truly want to have impact in our leadership positions, which includes instructional coaches, we have to focus on implementation, relationships, and the obstacles that may prevent us from our true impact, and those critical issues that create obstacles need to be addressed."

Fun(ny) Ways to Support Your Coaching Work

Looking to make your coaching interactions more entertaining? Kelli Schiltz gives her staff treats (topped with puns!) throughout the school year to remind them of all the different ways she can support them in their work.

"Naturally, when I began working with teachers, I saw the chance to use fun puns and treats as coaching reminders at key points throughout the year. . . . Even though this started out as a lighthearted way to remind teachers of ways we can work together, it has ended up being a really effective coaching tool. I've been pleasantly surprised by the number of coaching forms I've received in response on the days I've handed out the monthly coaching treats."

How to Coach for Differentiation

Lisa Westman explains the importance for coaches and teachers to focus on smaller goals to achieve larger ones and what areas to focus on.

"In short, there is a lot of confusion about what differentiation is, how you do it, and what it looks like. . . . Once I realized the reason, however, my coaching practice improved. The reason is: differentiation in and of itself is not the goal; rather differentiation is the result of the achievement of a number of smaller goals."

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From Coached to Coach: Where Do We Begin?

Maggie Colicchio dives into her transition from being coached as a teacher to becoming an instructional coach herself.

"Most instructional coaches have the honor of working with multiple classrooms, districts and even schools to support instruction and learning. We meet diverse educators, collaborate across multiple grade levels and content areas, plan professional development for a range of teachers and learning goals and create personalized coaching cycles throughout the year. . . . The success of coaching depends on the success of our organization and management skills, but it can be HARD to juggle so many tasks and tools as we move about our days, let alone adding a busy family life on top of that. The power of design gives us the power to take back control over how and what we fill our days with."

How to Reboot Your Coaching Approach

Geoff Knight offers a four-step plan to help rejuvenate your coaching routine.

"In order to get the most out of a reboot to your coaching approach, the first step is to examine your way of being. Take some time to consider and think through all of your coaching relationships from the previous semester, or previous year, using the perspective granted through the partnership principles. . . . Consider blocking off a couple of hours to think deeply about the following questions: What is my way of being? How do I approach people? What are my actions in these coaching relationships?"

Lessons I've Learned as an Instructional Coach

Megan Purcell reflects on five things she learned from her time spent coaching—some really great insights here.

"Teaching can be lonely, but what I have come to learn is that instructional coaching is even lonelier. . . . As an instructional coach, you need a support system. While the job may start out great and you’re getting along just fine on your own, there will come a day when your patience is tested and your bucket is full. In these moments, you need a cheerleader and supporter of your own. Building your professional learning network and filling it with other instructional coaches is critical to your growth and sanity in this job."

Edcamp-Style PD at School

Pam Hubler recommends "Edcamps"—educator "unconferences" that help promote informal collaboration—as a way for teachers to better drive their own PD.

"Last year, I started using this model so we could add choice to our professional development and really try to encourage teacher leaders. Afterall, you know how enjoyable 'mandatory' professional development can be! Yes, we still have to have those sometimes, but we try to mix it up a bit so teachers have some choice to make the day worth while. My favorite part is seeing how much other teachers enjoy learning from each other! I know that's how I was when I was in the classroom and I refuse to forget that! That's also what makes Edcamps so successful, so why not use the same method in our schools? Of course, I did not invent this model of Professional Development, this is just how we fit it into our set schedule."

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Topics: Instructional Leadership, TeachBoost, Must Reads, Building Relationships, Coaching Reluctance, First Year Coaching Tips, Coaching Methodologies, Self-reflection, Edcamps, Coach-Teacher Transitions, Making Coaching Fun

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