Just like a teacher sets up a classroom, an instructional coach needs to set up their coaching space. The process is very similar in terms of what you must consider about those you lead, whether it be students or teachers.
Not every coaching space is identical in size and shape. Most commonly, instructional coaches utilize an empty classroom or office.
The tips below outline the thought process a coach should engage in when setting up their coaching space.
Outside the Coaching Space
Teachers need to be able to easily find you. Not only does that mean that your coaching space should be easily identifiable with signage, pops of color, etc., but a communication system should be available letting teachers know where you are when you are not in your coaching space. A mini white board attached the the wall or door with a white board marker is a great system for two reasons: 1) the coach can write where they are and what time they will return and 2) the teacher in need of help can write a quick note about their needs and where/how to contact them back.
If you have more wall space outside of the coaching room or office, design a bulletin board where you can share tips or showcase teacher talent, like a “shout out” board. As an instructional coach, you want to build capacity within the building in any way you can. Even if a teacher does not meet with you 1:1, they can still learn how to hone their craft by consuming information that you share out.
Inside the Coaching Space
What happens inside the four walls of the coaching space can be extremely powerful and meaningful for a teacher’s personal and professional development. Just like a teacher sets up a classroom to be a safe place to learn and take risks, the same is true for what an instructional coach wants to do for their coaching space. Teachers should feel welcome, safe, and encouraged to think out of the box.
On the Walls
One way to create a welcoming environment, is to place motivating and informative posters/decals around the room. When teachers visit the space or are knee deep in working through instructional strategies they want to try, having colorful motivational images and words surrounding them will help.
You will also want to personalize the space so teachers can get to know you. Hang your education degrees and certificates on the wall as well as any personal photos of family, friends or experiences that are appropriate to empower teachers.
Additionally, you might be able to get permission from the school district to paint the walls and then contact the art teacher to create a beautiful mural on the wall.
Around the Room
There will be a variety of coaching activities happening in this room so it is important to have designated spaces for those to occur. Just like a teacher sets up centers or areas in their classroom, a coach will do the same in their coaching space.
Teachers will often want to learn about teaching techniques. If the coach has books on teaching techniques that they are willing to lend out to teachers, they can set up a coaching library and teachers can check out the books.
Coaches will want to have private conferences with teachers about their performance in the classroom. The conversations could take place at an office table with a chair on each side or in two arm chairs side by side. No matter what furniture is available to use, it is important to make sure that it is inviting and comfortable.
Modeling instructional techniques is a common practice between a coach and a teacher. Setting up a mock classroom where there are a few student desks and white board will help teachers visualize how the practice session with the coach will look in their own classroom.
Teachers often plan together and coaches want to ensure they are present to answer questions, be a sounding board for ideas, and guide the conversation about curriculum to deeper levels to best help students. Having an area for teachers to plan is important. This space should have curriculum and standards organized by grade level (possibly in binders on a book shelf), plenty of desk or table space to spread out materials and work, and maybe even access to a large desk calendar for long-range planning purposes.
Regardless if your coaching space is in an office or a classroom, you can set up your space to accommodate the various activities coaches and teachers engage in together. As long as the space is inviting and allows for productivity to breed, you are on the right track!
Continue reading blog posts from the Instructional Coaching Series here:
- Preparing the behind-the-scenes tasks of an instructional coach
- 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
GO BE GREAT!
How do you set up your coaching space?