After another quarter of being an instructional coach I have learned so many things. Many ideas are still in development. I am working to find ways to bring them to the forefront and implement, but change takes time. Like anything I do, many seem a bit out there, but I believe that all you have to do is believe and get a few people to engage and let them spread the word if it is worthwhile.
Until that happens here are four broad ideas I have found to be needed by instructional coaches or education leaders to keep things moving forward.
1. Tell the Tale – We have to be able to tell the story of the school, of how projects came to be, why things are the way they are. It is important that you know why things are the way they are. You don’t have to agree with all of it, but when people have questions, it is important that we understand why things are they way they are. Once you understand the story and how we go to NOW, then you can start to develop a plan for the FUTURE.
2. Get Visual – Communication is essential in this job. Be prepared to share content and help in all modes of media. Some learn by reading, some by doing, some by talking. Almost everyone understands visually so we must provide examples, help demonstrate ideas, and be a equal partner. One thing I have found is that the more visual I can make an idea the better the conversation and development of ideas. How you visualize your thoughts is up to you, but it is vital in expressing your ideas. Remember, people cannot crawl into your head so help them out. This goes both ways as both an instructional coach and for the educator.
3. Be Present – When working with someone that person is your priority. Do not think about what is next. Do not think about what just happened. If you want buy in, be in the moment. Give them your attention. Look them in the eye, do not internet browse, check email, etc. We do this all the time and in some ways has become the norm, but it is rude. Stop. Look them in the eye. Be engaged. Take notes as needed. Work side by side. Be respectful of the people who are giving up precious planning time to be with you. If you want them to come back, then make them feel cared for and worthwhile.
4. Promote the Team – Collaboration is essential with anything. The goal is not giving yourself credit. The goal is to share the stories of success and sometimes failures. When educators do great things be sure that you are helping to share their stories. Celebrate their hard work, taking risks, and making an impact on learning. Most educators won’t toot their own horn(even though they should), so help celebrate all the great things they are doing.
5. Food and Drink – Nothing brightens up the mood more than snacks and drinks. Cookies, Chocolate, Coffee, and Chips. The 4 C’s of education right?