A group of coaches and I recently sat down to better define what coaching is and what coaching isn’t. They were hearing odd things from teachers like “Wow! It must be great to be a coach because all you have to do is be spy for the principal!” and “How can I trust you when I feel like you’re going to tell the principal everything?” Actually, these comments are not odd at all, but a symptom of a bigger problem: a lack of understanding and knowledge about what the purpose of the coaching role is and, even most importantly, what it isn’t!

Here’s the list we came up with!

Coaching Isn’t

  •  Optional
  •  Punitive
  •  Personal
  •  Tattling to the administrator
  •  Unlimited patience
  •  Always comfortable
  •  Paperwork based
  •  Fly by the seat of my pants
  •  Subbing in the classrooms
  •  By teacher invitation only
  •  Working with kids directly
  •  Doing work for teachers, but doing work with teachers
  •  The go-between the manager and teacher

Coaching Is

  •  Individualized
  •  Teaching staff
  •  Diagnosing teacher need
  •  Based upon data
  •  Focused on specific teaching strategies
  •  Tied to students learning
  •  Intentional
  •  Inspiring, motivational
  •  Guiding teachers to new behaviors
  •  Face to face
  •  Communicating care and serving as an example to teachers
  •  Positive feedback
  •  Communicating effectiveness in the classroom
  •  Focusing on strengths, weaknesses
  •  Modeling
  •  In the classroom – in the trenches
  •  2nd set of eyes