Everyone Needs a Coach
* Originally posted by Kim Cofino on kimcofino.com. Remember when you were a kid and you played a team sport? Or maybe you were like me and played an instrument, or took fine arts lessons? Or maybe you just had a hobby or a class where you had some guidance for how to improve your skills? All of those experiences were times in our lives when we were willing to be coached. We had someone looking out for us, helping us improve, wanting the best for us, so that we would be successful in our chosen sport, activity or interest. When I decided I wanted to learn to do something new, lift heavy weights, the very first thing I did was seek out a coach (and then I moved and found another one, and then again, and so on). I am so appreciative of the relationship I can build with my coaches, and I realize that they are successful for three main reasons:
- The coach has expertise in the area and knows how to help the learner improve.
- The learner is willing to be coached and can share their goals with the coach.
- Both parties understand the dynamics of the coaching relationship.
- coaches struggling to find teachers to work with…
- teachers struggling to understand the purpose of coaching…
- admin looking for a vision of what the role can be, but don’t know what to ask or how to support the instructional coaching staff they have hired once they’re on site…
- Is it because we’re already successful (which, for international school teachers, could be defined as any of the following: working in a good school, continue to get hired at good schools when we go recruiting, parents of our students are happy, get positive feedback from admin), and we suddenly think we have nothing to learn?
- Is it because we genuinely don’t understand what the role of an instructional coach means in a K12 environment?
- Is it because we don’t want to be seen as needing support? And are therefore vulnerable?
- Is it because we just don’t like either the coaches or the subject area they are supporting?
- open minded
- willing to listen to different opinions
- willing to hear about their mistakes and work towards improving them in a positive light
- confident in their ability to learn and continually improve
1.No matter how good we are at our jobs we always have something to learn. All of us.If we expect our students to be risk takers and try new things, we should be modeling that behavior ourselves. I don’t know a single teacher that would be proud to say they teach the same thing the same way year after year, but many of us do it. We do it because we don’t have the energy or the time or even sometimes the interest. How can your instructional coach help? Most coaches I work with love to solve problems, it’s often one of the reasons we become coaches. We love to look at a unit, project, assessment, lesson, and see how we can effectively and efficiently use technology to enhance student learning. We want to start with your goals for what students should know and be able to do at the end of the unit, and develop (with the teacher) the best way to get there.
2. Instructional coaches are just like regular coaches. Our job is to help you be even more awesome than you already are.In most schools (all of the ones I’ve worked in or consulted with), coaches are not evaluators. They do not come into a classroom looking for problems, or even worse, with plans to tell your administrator what you’re doing wrong. A coach’s job is to build relationships with teachers so that we can help them meet their goals. In fact an instructional coach’s job is exactly like the coaches you learned from as a kid! We want you to do your best and we have lots of strategies for how you can get there. How can your instructional coach help? Just like my current situation of wanting to learn how to lift heavy things, your coach can help in the following ways:
- ask for, and understand, your goals – whether they be for you personally or for your students,
- observe and review your current skills, strategies and techniques to see where there is room for growth,
- model (in front of your students) effective teaching or technology techniques so that you know how to do it on your own next time,
- identify and suggest other growth areas that will support you in reaching your goals – these might even be things you had never considered, or seem a little bit separate from your goals, but your coach will be able to see (and explain) how the “assistance” skills can support your main goals,
- connect you with others who are working along the same path, and share resources that will help deepen your understanding,
- and ideally, push you just a little bit out of your comfort zone, to encourage you to take risks that you might not do on your own.