Moving into a coaching role as a teacher can be daunting for anyone. You spent years in the classroom perfecting your craft and all of a sudden you are in a new role and feel like a first year teacher all over again. But, you don’t have to. This post serves as a guide for you to begin to envision how to take your current set of skills and translate them into a leadership role.
This is one post of many in the Instructional Coach Blog Series. Catch up on the series below:
- Preparing the behind-the-scenes tasks of an instructional coach
- How to set up your instructional coaching space
- Conducting a classroom observation with clarity and precision
- Providing models of expert teaching through coaching
- Coaching cycle– what is it and how do I conduct one?
- Advice to a first year instructional coach
- A day in the life of an instructional coach
The best kind of leaders in education start out as teachers. As they gain experience in the classroom, they begin demonstrating their skills and strategies to their peers. They are often given student teachers and colleague mentees to oversee. Some even strengthen their leadership skills so much so that they eventually get promoted into an instructional coach, specialist or administrative role.
Being an instructional coach is very rewarding, as you not only help students reach their potential, but teachers as well. Although it might feel like you are navigating new waters, what you might be overlooking is how all of the skills you were honing in the classroom will come fruition in this new role. These transferable skills will allow you to tap into your tool belt of strategies and repurpose them in a new way. How exciting?!
Without knowing you personally, I can confidently say you have the potential to do a phenomenal job leading teachers in your school building. Let me share with you 10 ways you can use what you already know and can do as a teacher to be an impactful instructional coach.
Just like a teacher decorates their classroom, instructional coaches get to decorate their working space. The same materials can transform an empty room into an inviting office. Bulletin board paper and borders, personalized decor, inspiring posters, office supplies, etc. all reappear to showcase your style and personality as a teacher leader in your new space.
2. Paperwork Organization
The paperwork does not stop coming once you leave the classroom. In fact, it might even increase. But, that is okay because you are a master paper organizer! You have an efficient sorting and filing system from the moment a paper arrives in your hands until the minute the task it discusses is complete. This will save you sufficient time as you navigate your new duties.
3. Ongoing Communication
Staff, students and parents are relying on your communication to stay up-to-date on everything happening at school. As a teacher, this comes second nature to you as you communicated constantly with your students’ parents about what was happening in your classroom. You are using those same systems and routines to communicate with a larger audience.
4. Collaborative Circles
The best thing about teaching is the support network you create with your colleagues. You share ideas, swap lesson materials, brainstorm and problem solve anything that comes your way. You become each other’s cheerleaders and #1 fans. This same collaborative nature exists for teacher leaders too- they just might not all work at the same school site. This is actually a benefit because although you are going through similar situations, you are working with different staff, students and parents. That perspective allows you to offer sound advice and genuine encouragement to one another. You will find and build your tribe one individual at a time as you attend district meetings, connect on social media, etc.
5. PD Seeker
Leaving the classroom does not excuse you from attending professional development. Since this is a new role, it is imperative that you attend as many sessions as possible so that you can learn all the tricks of the trade. Life-long learning is something you have preached to your students, and something you will ask the teachers you lead to do as well. Modeling being a PD seeker is a great way to get teachers on board with learning from you!
6. Lesson Planning Hacks
Classroom teachers are master lesson planners. But sometimes when you teach the same grade level year after year, you get stuck in your ways of doing things. Being a teacher leader allows you to watch multiple grade levels plan their lessons. You start to tuck away every tip, trick and hack you can so that you can share it with the remaining staff members. Over time, you will have quite the arsenal of ways to approach instruction for a variety of learners.
7. Instructional Delivery
Speaking of instructional approaches to instruction, you are a master at that too. All of those years standing in front of students helped you solidify a style, demeanor and technique that is bar none. Luckily, that won’t go to waste. You will use those same skills as you deliver professional development to staff members. Just like students, adult learners require the same tactics to solidify their newly learned knowledge. Be sure to allow for movement, collaboration and gradual release of responsibility!
8. Tiered Support
One of the hardest parts about teaching is to make sure every student is successful. This requires a lot of planning time as you take a lesson and provide a multitude of supports for the learners in your classroom. Luckily, this habit of brainstorming followed by trial and error is engrained in your teacher muscles. As you support teachers in their own proficiency development, you will employ the same supports. Some teachers need a lighter approach and some need an intensive approach. You’ll set up a schedule and meeting itinerary such that you can model skills, watch teachers in action, provide feedback, and so much more.
9. Data Tracking
Those paper organizational skills are coming back around again! All that tiered support requires you to document all the interventions you are implementing for teachers. You can even use all of your old structures, files, and systems. Then, just like you passed the ownership to students to track their own data, you will do the same with teachers.
10. Can Do Attitude
Although this is a new role, you are more than equipped to do the job. It’s the same old tricks just on a new platform with a new audience. YOU GOT THIS! Now, go be great!
If you are in need of resources to tackle all things coaching, snag my very own binder of forms here.
What tip would you give to a teacher as they tackle their new role as an instructional coach?