Becoming a new instructional coach is exciting but it can also be a bit scary for most new coaches.
Many coaches are chosen for their positions as instructional coaches because they were excellent teachers themselves. They were also known as having the ability to get along well with other teachers in the building.
Both of these characteristics are important to have as a coach however, they are just a start for becoming a new instructional coach.
Good coaches are expected to help the teachers in their building improve their instructional effectiveness. This can sometimes be difficult if there are teachers who resist your efforts.
You may also be hesitant to approach teachers who are older or more experienced than you are in teaching.
Good instructional coaches are great listeners. They try to reflect back on what they are hearing by saying things like, "What I hear you saying is..." or "What I think you mean is..." to confirm that they have understood their coaching clients' ideas and concerns.
They respect each teacher’s expertise and individuality by finding out what it is that the teacher needs and wants. They then build deeper relationships and rapport with their coaching client by working to help him or her reach their goals.
A good instructional coach listens to the questions or problems the teacher wants to solve. S/he then clarifies any questions to make sure s/he fully understands the issues and concerns that the coaching client wants to solve.
There is an old saying that we were given 2 ears and only 1 mouth to remind us that we should listen twice as much as we talk when we work with our coaching clients.
When you are first becoming a new instructional coach you may not have all of the answers. Don't be afraid to say that you don't know the answer but you will try to find out and get back to the teacher.
Just like you didn't always know the answers to questions that students asked you when you were a teacher, you are not expected to know everything for your coaching clients either.
It is ok to say that you will research something and get back to the teacher. Just make sure that you do follow up if you say that you will.
One of the problems that beginning coaches sometimes have is that they try to give advice based on their own experiences as a classroom teacher.
While you most likely have great knowledge and ideas from your own experience to share, it is best to remember that no one likes a “know-it-all.”
Teachers don't want to constantly hear sentences that start with "When I was in the classroom, I...." or "What I did was..."
So, when becoming a new instructional coach, share your own expertise about what worked for you in your classroom sparingly if at all.
Some coaches find that using a phrase like, "Some teachers do..." or "Other people I have seen like to...." as a way to share some ideas with teachers. This can allow teachers to consider an idea without feeling pressure or feeling like you expect them to become a "mini-you."
Good coaches are continually on the lookout for ways to help classrooms run smoothly and student learning be the central focus of the school.
A good coach is nonjudgmental.
S/he does not try to be the “expert on stage” but plays the part of the quiet “guide by the side” in the relationship.
A good instructional coach spends time in the classrooms, building rapport with teachers, seeing the issues and concerns facing teachers and students, and modeling a positive, growth mindset.
Finally, effective coaches view themselves as partners with teachers - both individually as well as with the teams of teachers who are working for the improvement of students and the school as a whole.