I recently facilitated a pretty tough conversation between a principal, coach and the staff. Before they talked with the staff about how they were going to ‘right’ the coaching ship, we scripted what they were going to say and then practiced it many times. By the way, rehearsing is a great way to ensure that your more difficult debriefings go well – I highly recommend it!
Here was the basic outline of what the principal and coach shared with the staff:
“Staff, I want to take a few minutes to talk about our coaching plan. First off, I want to acknowledge that I have done a pretty weak job in the past at setting up the coaching role. Our greatest asset on campus is our team of teachers and in order to be able for us to increase how well and how effectively we teach, we need to continue to hone our craft. This is where Bonnie comes in. Bonnie was hired as our coach three years ago. At first, I don’t think any of us had a clue what to do with her! I know Bonnie would agree! When I first rolled out to you the idea that we were going to have a coach, I realized that some of you were less-than-excited and instead of explaining what the coaching would look like, I assumed (incorrectly) that when Bonnie showed up, everyone would be on board.
So, her first few weeks she visited classes and got to know your kids and you a bit better. Soon after, we pulled her from her coaching roll often to cover for teachers when we couldn’t find subs – I remember even asking her to cover the phones when we were short on office staff. Obviously, this is not what the role of the coach is designed for. The longer time went on, the more Bonnie would try to get into your classrooms, but it was difficult for her because it appeared that you were not open to coaching. Let me be very clear: I am not surprised that you appeared disinterested or resistant to the coaching. After all, I gave you absolutely no context for what was expected of you…and Bonnie. I want to apologize for handling coaching poorly…and for letting it go on so long. I also much apologize to Bonnie, as I was not supportive of her in the way that I need to be in order to get the results from coaching that we are expecting.
So I ask you to allow me to hit the ‘reset’ button on our coaching process. Our scores have shown that we are doing a lot of things really well for our kids instructionally. Recent data has shown than our struggling students in Reading and Math are continuing to struggle – we are having difficulty moving that group of students. I see this as a very important focus area for our coaching from this point out.
Over the two staff meetings, I have asked Bonnie to share with you the role of the coach, the flow of the coaching, the timeline for coaching and what she sees as a logical place to start with each of you. Please know that I have asked and do expect Bonnie to be working with each of regularly. Some teachers might meet with Bonnie more often and some less often, but everyone on our campus will receive coaching from Bonnie. How you are coached will be up to Bonnie and you – she has a structure for how to do this.
I appreciate your taking all of this information into consideration and allowing us to start fresh with our coaching work. We know that the most powerful form of professional development is coaching – and we want to be using our coach in ways that have the greatest impact. While coaching might not easy and it might require additional time from you, it is a major tool that we will use to continue to improve our service to our kids.”