Question Detail

I work in a large high school and am the only instructional coach for all subjects. What is the best use of my time? I struggle between working mainly with new teachers, planning for whole faculty, focusing on our tested courses and spending my time with those who are most open to my help and working with the teachers who are in the most trouble.

Nov 10, 2014 9:46pm

  • Coaching


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    • Nov 11, 2014 10:51pm

      One of the first steps you need to take is to sit down with your site administrators and create a shared plan for what you're going to do -- because it doesn't sound like your work is strategic, focused, and goal-aligned. Basically, I'd say you're doing too much, spread too thin, and probably not having the kind of deep and strategic impact that you could. What are you making your decisions on, in terms of where to put your energy? Are they based on some kind of data? For example, if your school struggles to retain new teachers then it might make sense for you to focus on just supporting them. But if you have 20 new teachers this year, then I'd say that focus needs to narrow even more -- perhaps you work with all of them just on procedures and routines; or perhaps you work with English teachers on developing structures for academic conversations.

      I don't believe coaches are best used when we focus on those who need the most, those who are struggling the most. In fact, I think our efforts are better used when we focus for example on teachers who are doing ok--but who could be really strong. This might be the difference between building capacity and bandaging a wound.

      I do think it's worth coaching those who are most open--if you're the only coach in a large school. Don't waste your time on those who don't want it and look to build where there is already some skill.

      But again, I'd take a big step back from this and sit down with the decision-makers and have a real -- and perhaps hard -- conversation about what it is that you do. What are your strengths? Where do you think you could have the greatest impact on student learning? How is the impact of your coaching evaluated or measured? If we want to say that coaching "works," and that schools should have coaches, we have to define the end-goal and then backwards plan from that so that we can be effective. Otherwise, what I often see, is coaches who are running around putting out fires, doing a thousand things too many, and not feeling particularly satisfied with their work. So coach your supervisors and figure out how to narrow and focus your work!