I can’t say it enough – I love coaching! I love being an instructional coach, I love receiving coaching feedback on my leadership, and I love observing coaching.
Some of my happiest days at work lately have revolved around my site visits to work with our district coaches. The work is meaningful and you can see the impact. I believe that everyone deserves a coach to help them reflect on their practice and continue to grow.
As I finish collecting data for my dissertation research, I had the opportunity to observe a principal coaching session in another educational system. This observation reinforced my belief in the power of coaching, especially when facilitated by a strong instructional leader. The personal connections, the immediate feedback, and the reflective questions can be so powerful.
I have experienced two recent situations where teachers were unhappy with feedback they received through coaching conversations. In our system, we are working hard to establish a growth mindset in students and adults. We want our coaching work to be productive and supportive of the hard work teachers are doing. But we must not confuse coaching with praise. Coaching should include praise and positive reflection on the part of the teacher and the coach. If we recognize that instructional coaching can have the power to improve teaching and therefore improve student learning, then we must acknowledge that coaching cannot stop at praise or strengths. Coaching must include an element of reflective considerations and/or feedback to help a teacher grow.
I feel very strongly that there is a missing link in our educational system, for some teachers and leaders. Some of our hard-working colleagues do not see the value in coaching. Some do not recognize that feedback can lead to growth and that everyone can improve. When teachers want evaluation processes, coaching, or general feedback to focus only on strengths without any questions or suggestions, I feel we are missing a prime learning opportunity. Teachers who have found success through coaching work understand this valuable learning opportunity. I want all teachers to find the same success!
I’m curious about other people’s experience with coaching. If you are a teacher, have you worked with an instructional coach? Are you a coach for others? If you are a leader, have you had any coaching on your leadership? What would be the benefits? What are the challenges? Please share your thoughts in the comments to start a dialogue!