Facebook fan, Robin H. asks: How to move people past the myth of coaches being only for struggling teachers?

What an important question, Robin.  Boy, we have a lot of coaches who are experiencing just this!  Here are some thoughts on how I typically handle the “coaches are for losers only” mentality:

  1. I re-establish with the principal the importance of using coaching as a vehicle or tool for evaluation.  Now before you freak out, let me explain!  (Coaching and evaluation used in the same sentence typically causes coaches’ heads to blown up.)  Coaching can be so powerful when a principal says something as simple as this, “I have asked our coach, Steven, to meet with each of you within the next two weeks to start a conversation around what kind of support you need in meeting our new district performance expectations.  I will ask Steven to report back, in two weeks, the names of the teachers that he has met with.  Your work with Steven will be connected to my mid-year evaluation, so while he will not be made aware of your performance on your evaluation, you can use him as a tool to prepare.”
  2. Go to a really hot-shot teacher and tell her that you are learning to hone your high-flyer teacher coaching skill and you would love if you could work together to coach and be coached – simultaneously!  You would be surprised at how supporting your teachers will be when you ask for help!
  3. Encourage your principal to set up a minimum coaching expectation.  This would mean that, minimally, each teacher on the campus would have X number of coaching interactions each trimester or semester.  Sometimes you have to force it.
  4. Consider group coaching as a starting point.  Perhaps you pull a few hesitant, veteran teachers together and say, “I’d like to meet three times for 30 minutes each to talk about ways that you are incorporating the information from the last professional development session into your teaching.”  There can be safety in numbers to begin with!