At our October professional learning conference facilitated by the PIIC mentors, coaches, and TPIIC.org, I asked coaches to submit questions they had about their practice and moving teachers forward. The questions were wonderful and really get to the heart of coaching. In the next few blogs, I will answer some of these questions and hope that my answers generate lots of conversations between and among coaches, mentors, and teachers.
What is the best way to transition from a classroom teacher to instructional coach in the same building?
This question is a really important topic for coaches who have become a “senior among their peers” and moved from teaching to coaching in the same building. The coach is not really a “senior among peers” but many colleagues may perceive the new coaching position as a “promotion” even though there is no salary increase for it. This may be because the teaching staff is not aware of the coaching model, role, or expectations. As a result, the relationship in the building must be re-negotiated (in a positive way).
First things first… the coach and administrative team need to be on the same page and share a vision about instructional coaching. That means that the communication needs to be transparent and explicit about how coaching can help the school achieve its goals for school wide improvement. The coach needs to be prepared and understand the role so that it can be discussed and communicated clearly to the administrative team and staff. It is important for the administrative team and coach together to “roll out” the coaching model to the staff with the expectations shared. That way, there is no misunderstanding about what the coaching role involves. At that time, the idea of confidentiality between the coach and teacher must be shared along with the understanding that the coach and administrative team will communicate regularly about school wide goals, not about performance or evaluation. If you started the year without this mutual understanding, you need to get on the agenda for the next faculty meeting and share this with the staff.
Second step… talk to the “emissaries of good will” aka, your friends on staff, and ask them how they feel about instructional coaching, e.g., what makes them comfortable/uncomfortable with the idea of instructional coaching; would they like to co-facilitate a mini professional learning session with you; can you “practice” the before conversation with them, etc. Notice that I did not say to offer a co-teaching or modeling session. That comes after the coaching interactions and solid working relationships are established.
Step three… collaborate with your colleagues and co-construct a needs assessment, i.e., how do you think the school wide goals for improvement can be accomplished; what would you like to know more about; what kind of topics would be helpful to offer as mini professional learning sessions, etc. This way, the teachers’ voices can be heard. Be sure to tailor the “ask” so it is not a venting session!
To be continued…How did you re-negotiate your role in your building?