I have had good and bad instructional coaches. The best would hear both my goals and my struggles, listening and asking great questions. Then we developed action plans together.
When I became a certified instructional coach, I was told this was a bad idea. “It must be student centered!” and focus on assessment data. Well, this is what the least effective coaches in my past have done. For me to become the best teacher I can be, some of the focus needs to be on me. Assessment and directly measuring student learning are one part of what I do as a teacher. Let’s not forget the bigger picture here.
Success for an instructional coach
A positive relationship between a coach and teachers would be the first step in making a positive, lasting impact on that classroom. Without that relationship, a coach runs the risk of having teachers ‘perform’ for them – jumping through the hoops of a cycle without even intending to improve their practice. It sounds unprofessional, but I’ve been in that position and didn’t feel like I had any choice. When a teacher is close to burnout, blasting into their classroom without empathy and adding more to their plate is a bad plan.
I would define success as an instructional coach when the students are getting a better experience in the classroom. This cannot just mean the results of test scores. Kids might learn some material well enough to pass an assessment but if they do not really enjoy or engage with the material, the learning will not stay for long.
It isn’t just about test/quiz/assessment scores. If the students are cursing the content under their breath and/or they are not going to retain that information, our success is hollow, even if the numbers look great.
A big aspect of my coaching includes helping teachers communicate what they love about their subject, why it is a cool subject, why they want to teach it, and how to find joy in the content. This needs to be an intentional part of our instructional coaching mindset now that standards and testing have displaced so much joy from the classroom.
Be sure to check out my absolutely favorite instructional coaching quote at the bottom!
Instructional Coaching Quotes
My favorite instructional coaching quote:
This site can help instructional coaches and teachers grow
Adjust after your first attempts
As you build, you will probably think of improvements to make or ways to make your project better. You may even decide to start over with a better idea. Most projects need several changes before they are finished!
Useful links for teachers:
This site holds the resources for Innovative Arts class, a class that replaced our technology class in our middle school. Students learn to create as engineers, designers, and more. At the same time, we are learning about our brains/mindsets (‘Puzzle‘), engage technology (‘Shift‘) and the creative process (‘Create‘).