Tuesday, February 13, 2018

6 Reasons Why You Need an Instructional Coach

First and foremost, I'm not an instructional coach.  The reason for this post is because I believe so strongly in istructional coaching and have benefited so much from it that I want to encourage you to look into it.  So why should you get an Instructional Coach?  Read on.

1.  Coaches Meet You Where You Are
Coaches listen to where you are at and they meet you there.  Contrast that with most professional development sessions in which you must adapt to where the speaker/leader is.  A coach is meeting you at your area of need.  This is a huge shift that is amazingly comfortable.  Instead of constantly catching up to someone else, you can look forward to where you want to go.  I believe the ability of a coach to meet you where you are at is the biggest benefit of coaching.
Coaches are like an adjustable desk.  They will adjust to your level.
2.  Coaches Inspire You to Get Better as a Teacher
Coaches want you to succeed.  They want you to thrive as a teacher.  They have been there in the classroom or are still there.  They know what it takes to reach students.  I have been coached for about three years with a variety of coaches (see below).  I'm a teacher with 31 years of experience and I can honestly say that I have been nudged, pushed, held accountable and inspired greatly in these three years compared to the previous years.  All of my coaches have helped me to get better as a teacher.
3.  A Coach Encourages You When You Doubt Yourself
This is the beauty of a coach.  You bring your doubts to the meeting and they will talk you through every single one.  They will give your their honest opinion (if asked).  They will talk you off the cliff and reassure you.  When the "lows" of teaching hit you, your coach will be there to encourage you.

4.  A Coach will Bring You Back to Reality When You Are Too Full of Yourself (Accountability)
REALITY CHECK.  You coach will gently level you out if you are too over the top with something.  They are there to help you see clearly the whole situation.  A coach is WITH you through your ups and downs.

5.  Teaching is Lonely and a Coach is There for You to Talk Things Through
When there are 28 students and 1 teacher things get lonely sometimes.  We need to talk through situations that occur in class.  We need a caring ear for our challenges.  When you have a coach, you don't have to feel bad about taking their time.  This is the role of the coach.

 6.  A Coach Will Help You Focus and Reach Your Goals
Do you have goals for your students?  Ask your coach to keep you accountable for the goals you have set.  If you don't have particular goals for your class, ask your coach to work with you to establish those goals.  I love the question my coaches routinely give me...."How does this activity support your goal to _________."  A coach will help direct your thinking to things that matter.

Here are my suggestions for you...
Ask a coach to work with you every other week for a total of four sessions (around 1/4 of the year) Meet for 1/2 hour sessions.  Be ready to evaluate together if you want to continue after that.
Decide what kind of feedback you want.  Do you want only positive feedback?  Then communicate that with your coach.  If you want a full range of feedback, then communicate that with your coach.
Communicate your goals, or establish your goals together.
Have fun and try to stay committed to the time. I.E Every other Wednesday 4th period.

Thank you to my coaches
2015 Tony Borash twitter @tborash (Digital Learning Initiative from Advanced Learning Partnerships)
Thank you for your passion for the art of teaching.  You inspire me continually to risk, to try, to fail, and to get better!  I loved co-teaching with you.

2016 Nicki Weiss twitter @WeissTeach and Megan Plackett  twitter @mnplackettnchs (Naperville Central High School Coaches)
Thank you for your tireless support of teachers.  Your enthusiasm for teaching is amazing and contagious.  Any time I meet with you I get a recharge emotionally.  Thank you for your gift of support.

2017 James Dunseith  twitter @jamesdunseith (Blended Learning Coach from Better Lesson)
Thank you for continuously directing me to my goals.  My mind is continually asking if this is helping me attain my goal.  Also, I loved brainstorming ideas with you.

2018 Chris DeWald twitter @ChrisDeWald_BL  (Blended Learning Coach from Better Lesson) Thank you for the question that you continually ask (and now I ask this of myself)..."How does this improve student learning?"

2017-present Rachel Fruin twitter @rachelfruin  (Naperville Central High School Coach)
Thank you for helping me communicate my thoughts to my students.  You have told me repeatedly, "tell them what you want and why you want it".  This year has been refreshing because I have communicated with my students in a more direct way than ever.  I appreciate your new ideas and your wilingness to share

Photo Credits
Adjustable Desk:  https://www.larryswanson.com/office-fitness/standing-desk/

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