The start of the school year is a great time for coaches to begin strategizing how they can enroll teachers in instructional coaching. It’s not always an easy task because teachers can often feel belittled or minimized if a directive or top-down approach is used in the coaching relationship or by their school’s administration. Instead, we promote a partnership approach.
From the beginning of the teacher-coach relationship, it’s important to make sure that the coach respects the teacher’s autonomy and fosters a dynamic where the teacher does most of the thinking and the coach provides support to reach their goals. If the teacher is treated as an equal and remains in control of what they do, then they will be more open to the process and improvement will follow.
Here are some effective strategies to enroll teachers using a partnership approach:
A one-to-one conversation provides a chance for a coach to have an informal interaction with a teacher about what coaching is and how it works. For clarity, a one-page document describing instructional coaching can help facilitate these conversations by providing a reference point for details about the process and answers to common questions teachers may have.
These types of conversations can be as long or short as necessary, and they are also a great opportunity to explain that the teacher, not the coach, will make all of the decisions about the coaching cycle. This chance to address anxieties or preconceptions regarding coaching can do a lot to assuage the concerns of skeptical or intimidated teachers. Coaches can also gather unique information about the teacher, their school, and their students’ needs to tailor their approach specifically to them.
Teachers learn all sorts of useful strategies and ideas through workshops. But after a workshop has concluded, it can be overwhelming to try to remember everything that was learned and then implement it. Coaching can be used as a way to help teachers put those new ideas into practice. In fact, workshops that don’t include coaching are rarely beneficial because teachers are left with a wealth of new knowledge and no specific plan for applying it in their classroom. When teachers are given the opportunity to partner with a coach after attending a workshop, the use of a Coaching Planning Form can be a useful way to ensure implementation of new practices and to demonstrate the value of coaching.
Coaches can also enroll teachers throughout the school year through informal conversations. With this strategy, it is very important that every encounter is not all about coaching. No one likes getting a sales pitch, so the more authentic a coach can be in their interactions with a teacher throughout the year, the better. If they are able to offer genuine support for a teacher facing a challenge, then that teacher will be likely to seek out coaching.
Small- or Large-Group Presentations
In some cases, a small- or large-group presentation can be very effective to get teachers on board with coaching. The next post in the “Preparing for the New School Year” series will take a closer look at using presentations to enroll teachers and provide some examples of powerful presentations. Be sure to check out next week’s post to learn more on this strategy!
Most coaches will find that a combination of these strategies will be necessary, but ultimately, the most powerful way to enroll teachers is through word of mouth. The more teachers who are are able to achieve their goals and reach students, the more teachers will seek out coaching. Nothing will illustrate the benefits of the coaching process like a teacher who has experienced the tremendous impact it can have.
For more coaching tools, check out the Resources page of our website!
Have thoughts on the strategies in this post or on other ways to enroll teachers in coaching? Leave a comment below!