Advice to a First Year Instructional Coach

The role of an instructional coach has rapidly become a well-sought after commodity in most schools. The position is ideally held by a veteran teacher with a proven track record for success in the classroom and in the leadership of other teachers. This means that success in the classroom is due to consistent growth in student achievement data over a period of consecutive years. It also means that there is success in leading teachers towards improvement through mentorship, professional development and everyday collaboration.

For teachers who are interested in becoming an instructional coach or for those recently hired to become one in their own school building, this post serves to provide sound advice from one veteran educator to another. As a note, the information compiled below is based on my own work in a K-12 capacity over new teachers within a large school district. With that said, I want you to have 1) an easy transition into your role and 2) a successful, productive year ahead!

Top Ten Tips for a New Instructional Coach

  1. Develop relationships, then trust
  2. Set lofty, attainable goals for yourself and others
  3. Get organized
  4. Be available
  5. Differentiate, differentiate, differentiate
  6. Continue learning yourself
  7.  Human first, leader second
  8.  Prioritize exemplars
  9.  Connect resources together
  10.  Celebrate progress

New Instructional Coach Tips Unpacked

A mistake many instructional coaches make is jumping right into trying to fix whatever mess they were hired to improve. So, take a step back and just be present and available as often as possible in the beginning. When you rush into leading people whom you do not know and who do not know you, a rift occurs among the staff. This can be quite damaging in the long run. But, if you spend time getting to know those you will lead by being a human first and a leader second, you will create a solid foundation from that which you can work productively.

The job of an instructional coach can be quite messy with the variety of needs within a building. To combat this challenge, create organizational systems for every task. When you are clear on your mission, have set goals that are high but still within reason to reach, and are working from an organized mind and space,  success is not far away.

To become the best instructional support for teachers, continual learning is a must. Connect teachers and yourself with experts in every area needing improvement. These exemplars are important to see live in action so that best practices can be replicated.

Lastly, don’t forget to celebrate all the hard work everyone is contributing to the partnership. It takes focus, vulnerability, and unwavering support to be successful. Every inch forward should be verbalized and congratulated. Instructional coaching is a long-game, not an overnight solution.

What’s Next for a New Instructional Coach?

First, if you haven’t done so yet, be sure to read the instructional coaching blog series below:

Next, if you would like a detailed explanation of how to get started, snag this resource: A How-To Guide for New Coaches. Or, if you are looking for a comprehensive collection of instructional coaching materials to better support teachers, snag the entire bundle here.

Lastly, I’d love for you to receive support during your first year. I offer a small group mastermind for teacher leaders like instructional coaches. We meet virtual every other week to brainstorm ideas for how to better support our staff, chat through obstacles, goal set, celebrate progress and grow our PLN across the nation. If individualized support is something you’re looking for, grab your seat in the Teacher Leader Mastermind!

If you are need of resources to help you become an even stronger coach, browse these printable and digital options. Check out my instructional coaching must-haves here.

Go be GREAT!

About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.