By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Monday, December 17, 2018

Be a thought partner, not a micromanager or absentee manager.

In the recent SmartBrief on Leadership issue, there is an interesting blog from Radical Candor. I hadn’t previously read anything published by Candor so this is new for me. I tend to shy away from anything labeled, “Radical” given the nature of our work!

What was interesting in this blog was the question asked, “How can you determine where you fall on this spectrum, so you can learn how to move in the right direction?”

It’s no surprise that Candor suggests that people on your team are more engaged when partnering exists. That’s the mantra of an instructional coach… partner, not dictate; collaborate, not tell, even when the advice is under the guise of guidance.

This blog recommends these actions to ensure a partnership approach:
·  Hands-on, ears on, mouth off
· Displays curiosity and recognizes when more knowledge is needed;
· Listens to problems, predicts problems, brainstorms solutions, and asks why;
· Asks about relevant details;
· Is informed because of a hands-on approach;
· Leads collaborative goal-setting;
· Removes obstacles and defuses explosive situations (coaches are oftentimes intermediaries and

   liaisons minimizing the possibility of any volatile situation)

I agree with most of the above list but the one that sticks out to me in a negative way is the “predicts problems” phrase. Coaches do not predict problems; coaches ask questions that help their teaching colleagues share the “what if” kinds of scenarios. Predictions may become someone’s prophecies; coaches avoid telling a colleague that a problem will occur even if they suspect it will happen. Instead, coaches are thought partners who help their colleagues think through instructional practices, discuss about multiple perspectives and ideas, co-plan strategies to address a myriad of classroom and instructional efforts, and collectively problem solve to find multiple ways to approach teaching and learning.

Are you a micromanager, absentee manager, or a thought partner?

Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Part III…What is the best way to transition from a classroom teacher to instructional coach in the same building?

Continued from November 1…

Step six… write an action plan about how you will move practice forward.
Your action plan needs to include a short-range goal, a mid-range goal, and a long-range goal. Use the plan as a self-assessment tool and take the pulse of where you are at each point. To help create the action plan, look at the Levels of Intensity for Coaches (detailed LOI and summary LOI) for guidance as you plan your schedule and activities. If you created a needs assessment as suggested previously and have that information, use it to populate the topics for your mini professional learning sessions. 

These mini professional learning sessions will generate the coach’s one-on-one conversations and the BDA (before, during, and after) cycle of coaching is born!

Step seven…
Rome was not built in a day! Welcoming a coach into a teacher’s classroom is not automatic. It takes time and work to build awareness and a shared understanding of what instructional coach is and is not. Think about the teachers with whom you will be working… what kind of support will they need and what preparation do you need to provide them with ongoing support. One-on-one visits can be challenging if the coaching relationship is not strong. Take the pulse of the situation and remember that instructional coaching is not a “fix it” model; it’s an opportunity for colleagues to work together in ways that strengthen instructional practice.

Work with the willing and build on the previous year’s successes. Remember, a coach is a partner, not a supervisor, administrator, whistle-blower, or evaluator. Keep reminding the staff through your actions and words that the coaching/teaching relationship is non-evaluative and risk-free. It’s a place where mistakes are encouraged so that learning takes place. You are not an expert and together, you and your colleagues will understand that two heads are definitely better than one! Establish those relationships first and then begin to move practice forward slowly and surely!

What strategy has worked for you in transitioning from a teaching position to a coaching position?