Becoming an instructional coach is exciting, but when you are moving into a leadership role on the same campus where you were a teacher, it can bring forward mixed emotions. There are certainly benefits and drawbacks from being promoted within the same organizational structure.
Before diving into the list of benefits and drawbacks, I first suggest catching up on this previous post: 10 Tips for Moving Into a Coaching Role as a Teacher. This will provide you with plenty of actionable advice to navigate the transition.
- Established Trust – You have been a teammate previously so staff members easily trust you, your intentions and your approach. You spent time building relationships, sharing your knowledge, and being a team player while in your recent role. You have proven your commitment to the school and to the betterment of staff. Having trust already established when jumping into a leadership role is a blessing because it accelerates your ability to help teachers progress in their proficiency. This means, you will create results in record time!
- Performance Insight– You already know staff strengths and weaknesses since you worked closely together previously. Again, this accelerates your timeline for bringing about results because you don’t have to spend time uncovering performance strengths and weaknesses. This previously learned knowledge is paramount to diving right into the most important work as an instructional coach.
- Culture Assimilation– Being a part of the staff previously, means you are intimately familiar with the culture of the school. You understand all the unwritten rules and norms. This allows you to get to work right away with teachers instead of having to learn the inner-workings of the school before diving in.
- Knowledge of Structure & Systems– You are extremely familiar with the protocols, structures, procedures, routines, requirements etc. of the operation of the school. These formal systems can take a while to understand and follow correctly for newbies. Luckily, you already know how the school operates so that is an advantage for being able to put your implementation plans into place quickly.
- Parent & Community Relationships– Being on staff has allowed you to have pre-existing relationships built with parents and the surrounding community. Leveraging these relationships will help you achieve results as you become a bridge between teachers and others. Getting support from these stakeholders will come easily and effortlessly.
All of these benefits make the transition smooth while limiting the learning curve of adjusting to a new role in a new place.
Cons of Coaching on the Same Campus
- Fine Lines– It can be hard to navigate the change in relationship from a peer colleague to a leader within the school. Even if you are not personally evaluating friends, the instructional coach role and expectations can be a fine line to operate within.
- Not Taken Seriously– Being a familiar face on campus can make it hard for folks to respect your new leadership boundary. They might joke with you as if nothing has changed or not listen to your advice. This can be hurtful and frustrating.
- No Fresh Start– It can be nice to start off a new journey somewhere fresh. When you transition roles within the same building, you lose the option of a fresh start. It’s a tad lackluster to transition into a new role with all the same faces, all your past mistakes known to those people, and a lack of excitement for new beginnings.
- Mistakes Made in Familiar Company– Since this is a new role, you will undoubtably make a mistake or two. Making mistakes in front of folks you know can be more embarrassing than in front of strangers. Having your friends watch you learn something for the first time can be daunting and unsettling.
- Challenge to Rebuild Broken Relationships– It is expected that there will be a few burned bridges or broken relationships to be repaired when you’ve worked in the same location for a long period of time. Leading enemies is difficult, but leading enemies towards effectiveness is nearly impossible.
Next Steps for Coaching on the Same Campus
- Check-Ins – Take time to chat 1:1 with friends and colleagues before officially starting your leadership role. You will not be able to undo years of relationship habits overnight. But, in time, things will change for the better. Talk about all the uncomfortableness: worries, fears, opinions, etc. Being open about how the change will be awkward for both parties will help make the transition more comfortable. Plus, this initial conversation opens the door for future conversations down the road about other uncomfortable topics.
- Use Grace – The adjustment is happening on both sides- you as the leader and those you lead. Allow yourself and others time to adjust to the new normal. There will be missteps on both sides, so use grace until everyone settles into their new flow.
- Celebrate the Little Newness Moments– Although you are surrounded by a lot of sameness since you have been promoted within the same system, celebrate all the little moments of newness in your role. This will help bring excitement to the daily work you are embarking upon.
- Model Learning Behaviors– An essential component of instructional coaching is to demonstrate life-long learning. Daily, coaches ask teachers to take risks int he classroom. This often comes with implementing new learning and making mistakes. If you are transparent in how you are learning lessons in your own role, making mistakes, and getting back up to try again, then it will be easier for teachers to follow your example. Don’t hide the learning!
- Have Hard Conversations– It’s not an aspect of the job that you’ll be excited about, but you need to begin repairing broken relationships immediately. This means sitting down 1:1 with folks with whom you have a negative past experience and settling the score. It might require a little rehashing of old issues, but focus the conversation on moving forward and taking accountability for your role in the fall out. You will need all hands on deck as a leader, so repairing these relationships is a non-negotiable first step. It is absolutely essential to rebuild broken relationships with staff to have the best possible impact on teacher proficiency and student achievement.
One Final Note
If you are ready to start preparing for your role as an instructional coach, I have a few suggestions:
- Attend a virtual PD webinar on instructional coaching best practices
- Begin preparing your digital or print coaching binder of teacher support materials
- Join a community of coaches for support and camaraderie, just search “instructional coach” on Facebook to find available groups
GO BE GREAT!
What was helpful to you when you transitioned roles on the same campus?