This four-part series shares leadership tips for instructional coaches. Each subsequent post will be specific to an aspect of coaching. Part One shared generalized tips. This blog post is Part Two and discusses organization, professional growth, and teacher motivation/buy-in.
MOTIVATION & BUY-IN
- Advocate– Being an advocate for the voiceless ensures all thoughts, feelings, and perspectives are valued. As a teacher leader, you are the middle man between teachers in the classroom and administrators in the front office. Since you know teachers the best, if they are uncomfortable sharing their needs and wants directly with admin, you can represent them with confidence. It’s important to respect confidentiality while also bringing concerns to the table so a solution can be reached. Being an advocate for others builds awareness and strengthens partnerships. These monthly report slips can be a great tool to use for advocating on a routine basis.
- Needs/Wants/Desires- Before dictating what and how teachers are to improve, evaluating their needs, wants and desires ensures they receive the support they seek. Provide a personalized plan for teacher growth and development, ranging from light to heavy support. These varying options help meet all personality and learning needs which builds trust and motivation. Only then can you layer in your own perspective of what and how they need to improve.
- Ongoing Support– Teachers won’t grow if the support they receive is few and far between. They need multiple opportunities to practice, receive feedback and implement new strategies. Developing different touch points of support will create quicker results and more confident teachers.
- Reflection and Revision– When pairing repetitive practice with feedback, an increase in outcome is sure to follow. To maximize results, allow teachers time to reflect on their practice and revise their approach. Check out these feedback slips you can use as a tool when you work with teachers.
- Reward Progress– Sometimes improvement is slow and steady which can be hard to see and even harder to remain motivated. By rewarding progress, no matter how big or small, teachers will continue showing up and giving their best because they know all effort is acknowledged and celebrated. Use these VIP Teacher Awards to acknowledge hard work.
The foundation of achieving results is having an organizational system of processes. Teacher leaders who spend time up front getting organized and setting a vision for a destination have a far greater chance at meeting goals (and at a faster rate) than those who do not. Below are three ways to get more organized:
- Protocol- Helping teachers grow can be tricky, but implementing protocols for meetings helps build habits and pass ownership to teachers. This might mean creating sentence starters for collaborations (PLC meetings, data dives, PD etc.) or reflective exercises after observations to digest and implement next steps. These protocols facilitate growth habits without you having to be present.
- Systems- Consistency gives a sense of security and builds trust. Having systems set up to track your teacher support plan ensures you catch obstacles early, have a clear understanding of where to go and build a flight path for how to get there. These systems can be replicated and reused for efficiency and productivity.
- Working Space – Whether you have a mobile cart or a cozy welcoming office, teacher leaders need an organized space to work in. Having all materials necessary within reach cuts down on unnecessary time searching around for them. Plus, a clean physical space creates a clean mental space. This allows for productivity and creativity to flourish.
Teacher leaders set the example for growth. If we want teachers to take risks, give their all, and dream big then we have to model that for them with our own learning. Below are four ways to grow as professionals:
- Mentorship– Find your own mentor! Even if your district or school provides you with a mentor, it doesn’t mean you can’t find one on your own that better meets your needs. Finding someone with a personality that best matches your learning style or someone who is strong where you are weak is a great start to an unofficial mentor who can have a tremendous impact on your professional growth. (I’d love to help you, grab a slot on my calendar here.)
- Professional Development – Finding PD for teacher leaders can be challenging. You have to chase your own PD instead of waiting for a big event to come to town. There are plenty of opportunities through leadership podcasts, blogs, magazines and even virtual summits. (My favorite is the coaching summit put on every summer by Nicole Turner!). No matter what you choose, what you put into it is what you’ll get out of it so go all in!
- Professional Learning Network – Grow your own PLN. Even if one has been provided for you, putting together your own tribe of educators who inspire you will keep you learning and growing better than anything else. Your PLN doesn’t have to meet altogether and they don’t even have to know that each other exist. They simply have to show up and help you and you do the same in return. A PLN can be two people or twenty. Make it what you need it to be so you can achieve your goals. (Hint: Don’t let the four walls of your office, school building or district keep your PLN from growing- break past those barriers and join my Teacher Leader Mastermind!)
- Vision Board– Map out your goals in a way that is consistently present in your environment to remind you to keep going. Envision your end goal, the process of reaching that goal, and even what it looks like to simply begin. Keeping your eye on your goal will keep you motivated on the hard days and is a great way to show others how they can support you as you grow.
- Continue to follow this blog series for more leadership tips for instructional coaches (Read Part One here and Part 3 here.).
- If you’d like to dig in on a deeper level, you can gain professional development (and credit towards your teaching license) through the “Teachers Who Lead” course bundle.
- Get access to more instructional coaching resources and professional development resources below:
Go Be Great!
What leadership advice do you have for instructional coaches?