By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Welcome to the new school year!

Thinking about and planning for a new school year is refreshing, energizing, challenging, and anxiety producing, all at the same time. As instructional coaches, we’ve tried to shut down our brains for the summer but that doesn’t work. We continuously wonder how to help teachers get better at their craft and encourage them to explore new ways to engage students. We want to throw teachers a lifeline to keep them connected to each other, to the school community, and to the teaching profession. We want to make sure we help them answer these questions: “What am I doing as a coach to help teachers change and improve their practice” and “What am I doing as a coach to help teachers increase student engagement and improve student outcomes.”

But what looms in front of us is the staggering rate at which new teachers leave the profession.

44% of new teachers leave teaching within five years ( and often leave at a higher rate than many other professions. And, they leave for a variety of reasons.

In 2018, teachers surveyed (as reported in Education Week, Dec. 2018) indicated that 18% said that leadership is key in job satisfaction while 17% said salary considerations were a factor. 17% also said school climate was a factor in staying or leaving the job. Different reasons but the same outcome. So, how do we address this issue and sustain the teaching staff so that every student is in a classroom with a highly effective teacher?

Teacher retention is not just about salary; it’s about a change in culture, climate, beliefs, and practices so that teachers feel supported. All teachers need to feel valued, appreciated, understood, and recognized for the strengths they bring to the classroom.

Enter the instructional coach!

Instructional coaches sustain the momentum, break down the walls of isolation, and ensure that teachers practice with each other. Make sure you lead by example, preserve ways to collaborate, foster open communication, and support teachers in implementing literacy practices across all content areas. Be respectful, persistent, goal-oriented, and focused on helping teachers reach their fullest potential and improve learning for all. Ensure that your coaching interactions are in that “judgement free” zone that supports reflection and mid-stream adjustments in teaching. Help teachers plan, review their plans, and revise them where needed. Be that “elbow to elbow” learning partner and provide that lifeline for all teachers, not just the novice ones.

How are you planning for the new school year?