Question: Do you have anything in your “toolbox” that would help a district to select their in-house coach. What are the characteristics they should or shouldn’t look for?
- Excellent, clear communicator
- Highly skilled and disciplined teacher
- Superb classroom manager
- Quick learner
- Very organized and can keep a detailed calendar
- Highly relational
- Does not give up on things or people when the going gets rough
- Able to read social situations and people (this is crucial and often overlooked)
- Has boundaries and is not afraid to say no
I used to give a list of tangible, skill driven things that the coach had to be able to do. A lot of it was content driven and about what they “knew” not just who they “were.” I think this is a really big mistake, which is why I have changed my tune! This list shows the type of person who is likely to be a successful coach…the rest can be learned!
I was speaking to a group of administrators last week in Utah and I got to do one of my most favorite things during the “off” times: just sit and chit chat with people! I think I end up learning so much by just listening to what principals are asking and what they are struggling with. One of the question that came up was, “How do I get my teachers to see me as a coach hem in times when I am not their evaluator?”
My answer to the guys I was talking to was this: you can’t.
I am not even sure that that’s even what we want to do, really. I mean they always need to see you as the administrator and evaluator, so you don’t want to confuse people by changing your role. But what I think we are really asking in this case is how do I approach my teachers in a way that allows them to be open about improving their teaching?
Here are a few of the things that I shared with the administrators at my table. Note: They’re small moves, but make a big impact on teachers and help them to feel more comfortable with us as we give feedback:
- Tell teachers that you will always be their administrator, but there are times you will be working in collaboration with them about the quality of their teaching and that this will look a lot like coaching
- Determine a structure for your coaching that is not the same as the evaluation form or process
- Tell the teacher that you will provide feedback to them and suggest things they need to change, but that you are not officially documenting this in their file
- Just be trustworthy and keep your word…if you say you’re not going to officially document, then don’t! If you say that you’re going to show up at 2:40 for an observation, then do! (Trust is so simply built, really!)
How can this information help further refine the coach as administrator relationship for you?