Coach Life: Not Having a Home Base

Instructional coaches can be school, district, or state based. If they serve a single school, then they have a home base. If they serve multiple schools in the district or across the state, then they do not have a home base.  A home base can be described as a central location to work from on a consistent basis.

Coach Life_ Not Having a Home BaseInstructional coaches who travel to school sites experience various challenges due to not having a home base. This post will share three common challenges as well as solutions for instructional coaches that do not have a home base.

Challenge #1: Disorganization

There are four main areas of disorganization when it comes to coaches not having a home base. First, serving numerous teachers at various school sites means having to keep documentation organized- who is housed at what school. Second, each school provides different materials for coaches to utilize to support the teachers- keeping track of what is available and where. Third, adjusting to the varying protocols used at each site for how coaches are to support teachers- what and how to serve. Lastly, the varying unique teacher needs at each school can make the mind of an instructional coach disorganized.

Challenge #2: Lack of Community

When a coach is housed in one school, they are able to enmesh themselves into the culture and community of the school. They are there every day building relationships with teachers. However, when a coach does not have a home base, they come in and out of schools on a minimal basis making it difficult to become part of each school community that they serve. It’s as if they are more of a guest than a staff member.

Challenge #3: Loss of In-Person Time

When coaches do not have a home base, they spend a significant amount of time traveling to various school sites. Commuting across the district or state takes time away from being at a school serving teachers face-to-face. Meeting the needs of teachers becomes more difficult when the coach is not physically present at the school when the teachers are needing support.

Overcoming the Challenges

Disorganization is a temporary problem. Instructional coaches can create systems so that all documentation is kept in one place for each school. Having color coded folders or crates are simple tangible solutions. A better solution, however, would be organizing documentation virtually because it eliminates the need to carry materials back and forth and diminishes the likelihood that things could get lost or forgotten. Google drive is a great tool that instructional coaches can access no matter what school they are serving. Housing all of the documentation in folders by school site is a quick way to get organized. Information about school materials available and coaching protocols used at each site could be stored there as well.

Just because a coach is not at a single school, doesn’t mean they can’t still become part of a school family. Instructional coaches need to change their mindset on what a professional learning network is, because it can extend beyond school or district walls (and it should!). There is a benefit to building a community of effective educators who come from different backgrounds, work under different leadership styles, and serve different demographics of students. Having access to a larger community can be just as rewarding as being a part of a home base school community. Instructional coaches should build connections everywhere and bloom where they are planted.

The lack of face-to-face time with teachers can happen whether coaches have a home base or not. Get creative with how an impact on teachers and students can be made virtually. Host virtual office hours to answer questions or concerns of teachers. Conduct coaching cycles or PLC’s on platforms that allow for collaboration and presentation. Ensuring teachers have access to coaches when they need help is the most important aspect, not whether they are face-to-face or not. (Voxer is my favorite way to support on the go!)

Do not fear if you are an instructional coach who doesn’t have a home base. Yes, it can be challenging, but there are ways to make it work FOR you and not against you. Grab this Instructional Coaching Mega Bundle to help you stay organized, build community, and serve teachers in unique ways.





How do you manage not having a home base?

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.