So u Wanna Coach Teachers?

16 May

Praying Handsphoto © 2008 jill, jellidonut… whatever | more info (via: Wylio)
For the past many months I have been devouring various articles, blogs, books, speaking with learning coaches and attending a number of workshops dealing with instructional coaching. Alberta Education in its Exploring school-based learning coaches document (2010, November), illustrates the roles, responsibilities of both coaches and administrators as well as an implementation guide and a sample ‘day in the life’ of an instructional coach. Another pertinent document is the Alberta learning coach role description (2010, December). The ATA also released a Discussion paper on learning coaches (2011, March). So, it’s definitely on the minds of Alberta educational institutions. But, let’s break it down for a moment. What are some things we should think about before entering into an instructional coaching career?

Here are some basic tips from my experiences so far:

  • Understand how adults learn – Adults learn best when they understand why something is important to learn, do and/or understand. They also like a variety of learning opportunities that are positive and encouraging.
  • Be organized – Use low to high tech tools to keep your information, research, notes and ideas all organized and readily available.
  • Ask questions – Asking effective and great questions are important when speaking with colleagues. There are several resources listed below that assist coaches in asking the ‘right’ questions.
  • Attend PD – You need to continue your professional development so that you can pass on the ‘gems’ too!
  • Build in reflection time – Time for your own reflection as well as collegial reflection is important. Some coaches use a journal, others blog, whatever works for you to be able to see the growth in this process.
  • Administrator support is key – Being enthusiastic and motivated is great, but having the complete support of the administrative team at the school is key to having the rest of the teachers also buy into this way of working and learning.
  • Identify clear roles and responsibilities – What is it really that you do? Try to set up a one-page summary outlining your roles and responsibilities. It’s a good way to promote what you are doing to administrators and teachers and it’s also a good way to target your own P.D. experiences.
  • Build relationships – This is number one in my thoughts. Building trust and understanding in this collegial learning relationship is pertinent to furthering the impact on students in that particular class.

After discussions with colleagues and continued reading and reflecting…..I think I like the idea of calling an instructional coach a “Lead Learner”. In my many sports-filled years I have had the opportunity to work with and for many coaches. I see coaches in a different light; shining brightly on the area of being ‘the expert’ more so than being a colleague who is at a level learning platform. So, for me, the “Lead Learner” title resonates more for me.

Check out further resources:

CoachGinsburg on twitter

Cognitive Coaching with John Clarke

Evocative Coaching – Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time

Instructional Coaching – A Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction

JimKnight on twitter

Joellen Killion with Learning Forward

Power of Teaching – The Science of the Art: Behavioral Pathways to Excellence in Teaching

Radical Learners blog

The Big Four ning

Unmistakable Impact – A Partnership Approach for Dramatically Improving Instruction


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