The routine of an educator is very detailed and scheduled to the minutia of even syncing their bladders to the 2.2 mins they have over planning to use the restroom after dropping off students, calling a parent, copying a worksheet, and checking his/her mailbox in the office as they are gently chided by the attendance clerk for forgetting to enter the attendance for Block A once again.
A coach, on the other hand, has to adapt to a frighteningly open schedule. It is a blank canvas, that the coach will fill with the needs of his/her colleagues one appointment at a time. For a new coach this is extremely daunting. We all know, and remember well, how crazy the back to school schedules are for classroom teachers, but this is a time when teachers are building relationships, establishing norms, and getting adjusted to new expectations so coaching is usually pretty low on their list of priorities early in the year.
So what is a new coach to do during this time? Establish what you want your coaching program to look like when the educators in your building are ready for your help, develop yourself and seek out professional development on a new topic or relevant strategy for the commencing school year, and develop relationships of your own.
Establish Coaching Culture and Expectations
Meet with your administrators. Find out what their goals are for your area of expertise this year, what initiatives you can expect to be a part of, what committees they would like you to be involved in, and when you will be given opportunities to provide professional development this year and what topics are recommended.
Then set up your planner, online calendar, or appointment sheets. If you want teachers to work with you, you’ll want to have a clear system established, because if they have to chase you down to work with you it’s going to discourage them from using your services. Be sure to consult the district and building calendars to avoid conflicts and booking appointments you won’t be able to honor later.
Then create a menu of services. This menu should clearly outline the variety of things educators can do and leverage their coach to achieve during this school year. Amber Owen shared a great menu on a coaching Twitter feed today. I thought I would share it with you for a reference.
— Amber Owen (@amberattheshift) July 16, 2019
Most importantly the coach needs to establish connections with the educators, students, and administration in the building. If you want teachers to seek you out for guidance, support, and ideas you need to establish yourself as a part of the building you will be coaching in. This is especially important if you are hired to coach in a building or district you’ve never worked in prior to coaching. If you want teachers to view you as a necessary part of their instructional practice, they need to see you in their instructional setting. Try popping into rooms just to say hi and offer to assist. Check out what’s happening on different teams, and ask if any assistance from an instructional coach might be needed. Offer to relieve a teacher whose bladder is still on summer time schedule to run to the restroom and get a breath of fresh air while you interact with the students in his/her classroom.