The Monster Mash: 5 Coaching Monsters and How to Defeat Them

undefined-526252-edited.jpgOn a dark and stormy night, you sit down for an evening of instructional coach planning and preparation. Suddenly, through the pouring rain, a bolt of lightning crashes, illuminating sights previously unseen. You realize you are not alone—you’re being haunted by instructional coaching monsters!

How will you survive? What follows is a description of each monster and how to “mash” them. Read on, if you dare . . .

The Vampire

  • The Monster: As a coach, you’re often so busy meeting everyone else’s needs that you have no time for reflection. Like the vampire, you feel invisible in the mirror.
  • The Monster Mash: It sounds simple, but you need to intentionally make time in your schedule to reflect, or using video to make time outside of your work day. Be a model of professional growth and reflection by filming a lesson, meeting facilitation, or training session and recording your thoughts as you view the clip.

The Wolfman

  • The Monster: Many coaches change forms, splitting time between coaching, teaching, and other responsibilities. Just like the wolfman, transitioning between roles can be difficult—not only for the coach, but also for your colleagues.
  • The Monster Mash: Be clear about what hat you’re wearing. Frame your conversation using phrases like, “As your coach . . .” or “As your personal friend . . .”

The Blob

  • The Monster: Many coaches struggle with a role that is difficult to define. The more time passes, the more nebulous your job can get.
  • The Monster Mash: If you’re fighting the blob, you may need help. Your best ally in defining your role is your supervisor, whether you report to the school principal or another district leader. Have a detailed conversation about what you can do, must do, and must not do in your role as coach. Clarity regarding your role is essential to your success as coach.


  • The Monster: Every coach has a list of tasks that refuses to die. Every time you check off one thing, another zombie or ten rise to take its place.
  • The Monster Mash: List your tasks on note cards or sticky notes. Sort your piles by priority: To do today, to do this week, to do as needed, etc. You might try hanging your tasks on the wall or office door short-order-cook-style as a visual reminder of what you need to get done each day.


  • The Monster: Even with the best of intentions, coaches sometimes forget to listen and stomp through a conversation or meeting like Godzilla stomps through a metropolitan area.
  • The Monster Mash: Use a protocol to break out of your usual patterns of conversation. Focus on asking questions or making statements that move the conversation forward.

Suddenly, you’re startled awake from your nightmare. You fell asleep at your kitchen table with your laptop open and favorite coaching resources strewn about. Your breath slows as you realize that it was all a dream, but a familiar song echoes in your ear:

“Then you can mash, then you can monster mash

The monster mash, and do my graveyard smash

Then you can mash, you'll catch on in a flash

Then you can mash, then you can monster mash . . .”

-Bobby Pickett

Happy Halloween!

About our Guest Blogger

Eric Sandberg is an instructional coach with Erie Public Schools in Pennsylvania, and the author of His blog is wonderful, and we’re big fans of the way he uses song titles in his posts. Connect with Eric on twitter at @ecsandberg11.

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