Jane Kise, Elena Aguilar, Jim Knight, Diane Sweeney….all considered experts in their field, published authors, with different key ideas and visions for coaching.  With so many various models available and resources to choose from, how do districts choose or create a coaching structure that will support their goals? How can you define & measure success as a coach? As a coach, where do I start?

Like most of us, coaches are required to wear many hats.  Their role is often scrutinized as they are not in the classroom with students 100% of the time and are often asked to perform administrative roles but are NOT administrators.  To summarize what a coach does on a daily basis is nearly impossible; however, @LeeAraoz & @Sylviaduckworth created an awesome visual that I will summarize for you which showcases 8 primary roles and responsibilities of a coach:  

  1. Provide job-imbedded professional development
  2. Model & demonstrate best practices
  3. Offer non-evaluative feedback on a regular basis
  4. Are site-based teacher leaders who support both teachers and students
  5. Create an environment where student needs drive professional development
  6. Offer guidance and feedback at the exact time teachers need it most
  7. Inspire teachers to try new learning strategies and/or tools
  8. Facilitate the transition from teacher-centered learning to learner-driven                      

Not an easy job description right?  Not to mention they are expected to be “experts” in every content area across all grade levels in their buildings.  So how do coaches succeed? What can a building principal or district do to help ensure a successful coaching program?

I spent a lot of time over my winter holiday thinking, researching, and planning activities for the coaches across Kane County.  In doing so, I came across two recent articles “You can’t Have a Coaching Culture Without Structure” by Elena Aguilar, Educational Leadership, November 2019 (Vol. 77, #3, pp.22-28) and “If Instructional Coaching Really Works, Why Isn’t It Working?” by Michael Moody in Educational Leadership, November 2019 (Vol. 77, #3, pp. 30-35).  As I read these articles I synthesized three big takeaways that will not only support district leaders in their efforts to launch and sustain effective coaching programs, but will support coaches as they work tirelessly day in and day out to support all students and all teachers as well as support teachers in knowing what to expect from their coach!

  • Define what coaching is and is not – Be clear who coaching is for (ideally it is for EVERYONE).  By clearly articulating the various components of coaching (peer to peer coaching, feedback, video recordings, goals, data dives, professional learning, formal vs. informal coaching, etc.) to ALL stakeholders you are not only communicating the importance of coaching, but you are also establishing a community where teachers feel empowered to utilize their coaches without fear of evaluation or as viewed as remediation purposes.
  • Collect data and use student data to drive professional learning -Professional learning should be provided by the coach as one of his/her job responsibilities.  This professional learning should be aligned to school and district goals. This is an important role for the coach which requires transparency and trust among the staff.  Professional learning should be driven by student needs – coaches should not have to worry about what PD they will provide at the next SIP day. This should be an ongoing and focused process that supports individual, small group and building growth. This not only helps focus the role of the coach but also shows the correlation between goals, coaching, and implementation.
  • Ongoing training and support – We must be continuously evaluating our model, our coaches, and the impact of learning and teaching they are having.  We demand so much of our coaches but are we filling their buckets with professional learning opportunities to help them thrive in their position? 

In my experience when one of the three key points are missing is when you have a less than optimal coaching structure where your coaches are underutilized and devalued.  In my role at the Kane County Regional Office of Education, I do my best to support ALL educators, one of the best ways that I can do this effectively and efficiently is through supporting the role of the coach.  So, in an effort to support our coaches I have another giveaway…..

If you are in the role of a coach (literacy, instructional, technology, math, ELL, etc.) reply to this blog post OR email me at kalgrim@kaneroe.org by January 16th to win a year subscription to “The Marshall Memo” by Kim Marshall!  If you are unfamiliar with Kim Marshall check out my blog from a year ago and see what a priceless gift this truly is!!  All you need to do is provide me with the following information and be one of the first 5 coaches to respond:

  • What is your current role?
  • What is your biggest success as a coach?
  • What do you like most about being a coach?
  • What was the best PD you ever received and why?
  • Name
  • Email

Good Luck and Happy New Year!!

***All 5 subscriptions have been claimed!****


Katie Algrim – Director of Innovative Professional Learning

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