By Ellen Eisenberg

By Ellen Eisenberg, Executive Director of The Professional Institute for Instructional Coaching (TPIIC)

Monday, January 27, 2014

I took a quick poll from some newer coaches to ask them for a few questions they had about their practice which would have been helpful if answered before they began to coach. Some said that they didn't even know the questions to ask prior to becoming a coach. They made an assumption that their colleagues would just "open their doors" and welcome them into the classrooms. Once they began talking, the rest would follow. Unfortunately, this did not happen as often as expected. Several coaches commented that if they had a chance to start anew, they would focus on building awareness of the instructional coaching model for their faculties rather than jumping in with both feet and expecting to gain access to classrooms from the very beginning.

This is extremely important. First, the coach and the administrator(s) need to discuss the vision for school wide improvement and how instructional coaching can help the school achieve the goals for improved teaching and learning. Then, this shared vision must be communicated to the rest of the leadership team and the staff. The school staff must know the expectations about instructional coaching, understand the role of the instructional coach, and recognize how instructional coaches are on the side of helping teachers implement effective instructional practices.

Coaches and administrators need to work together to build awareness that instructional coaches are not "fixers" and instructional coaching is not a deficit model where coaches are "assigned" to work with teachers who have been identified by administrators as needing help. Instructional coaches provide a differentiated support system for teachers, administrators, and students to go from "good to great." They help teachers and administrators make instructional decisions that influence learning and help build sustainable structures. They must clearly communicate that instructional coaching is a non-evaluative process that fosters collaboration, collective problem-solving, and creative solutions to school wide challenges. The sooner this vision is shared, the sooner instructional coaches can work with their faculties to reinforce the plan for improvement.

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