Coach Life: Wearing all the Hats

Instructional coaches wear many hats in the school building. If a coach were to record “A Day in the Life” it would look like a random list of never-ending tasks. It’s exhausting and frustrating.

Coach Life_ Wearing all the HatsThis post will uncover why this is happening in schools all across the nation and what instructional coaches can do to manage (and prevent) the workload.

The Problem

Teacher leadership is often sprinkled in among substitute teaching, making copies, sitting in meetings, answering the front office phone, car and bus lot duty, among many others. These duties generally fall on the shoulders of instructional coaches because schools are short staffed. On top of that, sometimes schools can’t justify hiring an employee dedicated solely to these other tasks because the tasks (albeit random) do not occur often enough. Therefore, the next available staff member to take on these tasks are instructional coaches. This can be frustrating because coaches just want to be in classrooms coaching teachers. Although instructional coaches are team players, many times the tasks they are asked to do are not related to their hired role.

The Solution: Management

You are one person, so you cannot do ALL the things. Leading teachers towards effectiveness is your priority. So you’ll want to protect that time, and fill in the tasks around that. The tips listed below will allow you to better manage the long list of extra tasks you are asked to complete.

  • Ask for your duty list ahead of time (ideally a week)- Let your administrator know that you are willing to help out, but in order for you to be an effective coach you need to have as much warning as possible so you can make adjustments in your schedule.
  • Prioritize your tasks based on importance– What has the biggest impact on learning? That is what stays at the top of the list. Where do you have nooks and crannies in your schedule that you can knock off some quick tasks?
  • Ask for help– When you are nearing capacity to complete your required duties and these add-on requests, reach out for help from a colleague.

The Solution: Prevention

  • Meet with your administrator– Prior to the school year, meet with your administrative team and establish roles and duties so that requests will align with these boundaries.
  • Share your calendar– Allow administrators to know when you have available spots in your daily schedule so they can call you for last minute help if needed.
  • Delegate responsibilities– Leverage the leadership within the teaching staff and appoint tasks to capable and willing colleagues.
  • Take one and leave one– If you accept a task because it is important and aligned, but are unable to complete other tasks because of this new one, swap a responsibility with a colleague (ie. I’ll sit in on this IEP meeting if you can kick start this PLC meeting until I can get there).


Utilize the following resources to help you STOP wearing all the hats, and have a focused coaching plan to best support teachers:

  • Develop a Coaching Plan– Create a coaching plan with tools to get organized in your work space and develop a clear instructional strategy to help teachers.
  • Teacher/Coach Role Descriptors¬†– Provide defined roles in regards to how teachers and coaches interact, what duties they hold, and what responsibilities they have in the school building.
  • Teacher’s Level of Support– Help identify which duties belong to which stakeholder- mentor, coach, team leader, or administration. This graphic organizer explains it all. Makes for a great handout for staff when wondering who to go to with questions, concerns, or support.
  • Coaching Menu–¬† Provide teachers with support options that meet their needs in terms of method and frequency.


How are you managing and preventing wearing all the hats?

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.