In the last blog entry, I suggested three initial steps for coaches to move into the coaching role from a teaching position in the same school. The key to remember is that coaches are not experts; they are learning collaborators in a partnership and must maintain confidentiality to gain and sustain trust which is the most important quality in the teaching/coaching relationship. Remember, most teachers have experienced the administrator observing practice; they are not experienced with the idea of having a colleague visit (not observe) classrooms with the purpose of talking about practice. This is not a common practice in places without instructional coaches.
Once the coach and leadership team have shared the expectations with the staff and the coach has begun the ongoing process of engaging colleagues in conversations about school wide improvement, the focus shifts… slowly at first but in very deliberate ways.
Step four… the coach needs to “outfit” a coaching space so that conversations with teachers can be private and inviting. This is space where the teacher feels comfortable meeting with the coach and have resources for the teachers to explore and to exchange ideas and promising practices with each other. It is a risk-free environment that shouts, “collaboration is the norm!” The coach needs to plan a schedule so that the teachers know the coach’s availability. This schedule needs to incorporate the teacher’s schedules as well so that the coach offers an opportunity for all teachers to have access to the coach.
Step five… once the coach has walked around the building and engaged in conversations about the school wide goals and co-constructed a needs assessment, the coach has an idea of the kinds of topics to offer for mini professional learning sessions. Go back to the source… the teachers… and invite colleagues to co-facilitate/co-present on topics of interest. You may or may not have some “early adopters.” Start small… once or twice a month offer mini sessions multiple times during the day so that teachers can “float” into the coaching space to share that professional learning with you. This is especially effective if a teaching colleague joins the coach. Next time, ask each participant to bring a friend! Rome wasn’t built in a day so the first few times may feel like you are talking to yourself but don’t give up… it will catch on!
To be continued…
What strategy has worked for you in transitioning from a teaching position to a coaching position?