7 Ways to Build Your Coaching Confidence

I’ve been thinking a lot about confidence lately.

And it all started with a recent trip to the grocery store.

So there I was, Saturday morning, groceries in hand waiting in the check-out line at Safeway. As I was looking around, I recognized a girl I knew through a mutual acquaintance. And not just any girl. This happened to be the girl who you look at and immediately think Confidence, with a capital C. Even on a Saturday morning in the grocery store, she walked with confidence, dressed with confidence, and even carried her vanilla latte with confidence.

First thought — Where’d she get all that dang confidence, and how could I get more of it?!

Confidence is something we all naturally want more of. It helps us feel better, do better, and achieve more.

And in our work as coaches, I’d say we especially want confidence on our side.

From one-on-one coaching convos, to leading whole staff PD, to facilitating grade level meetings–confidence comes in real handy.

So let’s talk about it. If confidence is something you struggle with, don’t worry. We all do! Even if we do a good job of hiding it, we all have insecurities that creep up now and then.

But don’t let that fear stop you from doing hard things.

Confidence can be developed and strengthened just like anything else. Here are a few tips and tricks I use to help me build my own confidence as a coach.

1. Check Your Language

If you catch yourself using or thinking any lame-o language like:

I can’t…
I hate…
I stink at…
I’m not…

STOP IT. Stop it right-this-second.

Your thoughts and words create your reality just as much as your actions.

So if you want to create a more confident reality, make sure the language you use reflects that. Be your own biggest cheerleader. Switch out those lame-o thoughts with others like:

I’m awesome at…
I can…
I AM…capable, smart, positive…

When I was in the classroom, one of the things I always used to say to my kids was: You Can Do Hard Things. And guess what? They could! And so can you.

Surround yourself with positive language. Post it on a sticky note, in your coaching office, and in your planner! Use this poster to get you started.

Download Here

 2. Use Your Strong Voice

Dana Perino is a news anchor who sure has achieved a lot in her career. And she needed a lot of confidence to do it.

In a recent interview, Dana shared that one of the best pieces of advice she could give to women in building their confidence: find and use your strong voice.

I appreciate this advice so much, I think I’ll say it again.

Find and use your strong voice.

When you have conversations with your principal, or with other teachers, pay attention to how your voice sounds. Is it weak and whiny, ending in a lot of question marks???

Share you advice, thoughts, or ideas with confidence. Use your strong voice.

Thanks Dana.

3. Develop Your Presence

On my walks with Sombra dog, I’ve been listening to the book Presence by Amy Cuddy. Amy does a great job of explaining the concept of presence, and how it contributes to us showing up more confidently in our daily lives.

One of the big things she talks about is body language. I have to constantly be reminding myself of this one.

Things like slumped shoulders, crossed arms, and your nail picking/biting habit (guilty) do NOT convey confidence.

Instead let’s try this: before your next coaching or PD meeting, strike a power pose. Essentially, stand like Super Woman. Hands on hips, shoulders back, and slap a big smile on your face. You might also envision your Coaching Cape flapping behind you :)

When you move into your coaching session, I’ll betcha feel more confident. Keep that posture straight, smile and nod as you listen, and coach away!

4. Prepare Your Booty Off

I read an interview recently with Megyn Kelly, in which she described owing much of her success to hard work and intense preparation.

Now if Megyn Kelly can’t teach us a thing or two about confidence, I’m not sure who can. She pretty much oozes confidence.

As Megyn said, when you’ve prepared well you know what you’re doing which leads to more confidence.

One of the things we’ll talk about in the upcoming Walkthrough a Coaching Cycle Workshop (planning sheet included!), is how to prepare for (and feel more confident in) facilitating effective feedback sessions.

5. Get to Know Yourself

Guess what. You’re pretty awesome. And you should know exactly what makes you awesome.

Grab a sheet of paper right now, and write down 5 things you know you’re super good at.

Things like:

I’m a dang good compliment giver.

I can organize a classroom like a boss.

I’m pretty great at building relationships with other people. Even the sticklier ones.

I am ninja good at planning a guided reading lesson.

Knowing you’re strengths and what you have to offer your school and the teachers you work with, is worth a million confidence bucks.

6. Set Small Goals and Achieve Them

Try setting a goal, just a small one, then work to achieve it.

Maybe it’s something like setting aside 30 minutes to intentionally plan for each of your feedback sessions this week. Write it down in your planner, and check off each planning session accomplished.

You’ll look at that “got-it-done” check mark and feel great about yourself.

7. Get Outside of Your Comfort Zone

In your journey to increased confidence, you have got to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

I’ll be the first to say, I’m not always great at this. I like my comfort zone and the ease that comes with staying in it.

But! Staying comfortable was never the factor that helped me achieve more, and in turn build more confidence.

Tough situations, those ones that cause you some anxiety and butterflies-in-the-stomach feelings, are the ones that will build your confidence. Move towards them, dance with them, and know they’re doing your confidence some good.

Bonus Tip: Exercise!

This one really does work. Some of my most confident days have come after a sweaty cycle class, jammin’ out to Lady Gaga.

Building your physical capabilities, builds your mental capabilities, which equals more confidence.

Even if it’s just a good playlist, and some dancing around to get those feel-good endorphins going, take advantage of movement as one of the most empowering activities out there.

And there you have it! Seven top tips for continuing to build your confidence. Try to choose one to focus on next week, and see how it goes.

If Coaching Convos and Cycles is an area you’re looking to build more confidence in, make sure you’re signed up for the Walkthrough a Coaching Cycle Workshop!

The photo above of me working with Matalin, was taken during an actual feedback session. A video of this session will be one of the three offered as part of the “Coaching Cycle Case Study” in the workshop. With clear steps, a visual model, and a plan of action for moving forward, I am certain you’ll feel like a more Confident Coach after taking part in the workshop :)

Thanks for reading! You’re the BEST!

Clarifying Your Coaching Role (And Adjusting to Change)

I haven’t told you yet, but this year we got a new principal.

Oh, and we also got a new Assistant Principal, a new School Designer, another math coach, and added another teacher to our Leadership Team.

So needless to say, the start of this year has been one of change and adjustment for me, and the school as a whole.

But it’s cool, because as Peyton Manning says, you always have to be prepared to adjust.

One of the pieces we had to work through, was the clarification of coaching roles and responsibilities. With all of the new folks on board, Deb (my math coaching buddy) and I felt this was an important to-do in supporting our work for the year.

The question, “how do I clarify my role and share with teachers?” is one I get often, so I hope this post will be helpful.

Coaching Roles and Responsibilities

Whether you’re a first year coach, a coach going through a period of transition, or even if you’re a fairly seasoned and stable educator, I believe this is important thinking for all of us.

Here are the steps we took to clarify our coaching roles and responsibilities, and get everyone on the same page in moving forward.

1. Set a Date and Create an Agenda

The first thing we did was request a day and time for the whole leadership team to come together.

An hour of time was requested and the outcome was defined as: To develop shared understandings of the roles and responsibilities of Instructional Coaches.

We felt that actually coming together to present what we do to our new principal and the other members of the leadership team was critical. Emailing a summary of our work for review didn’t feel sufficient, and we wanted to ensure that all questions were addressed.

2. Define and Clarify

Once we had a date on the calendar, Deb and I came together to define and clarify our work. We pulled up a Google Doc and began to get our thoughts down on what we do on a daily, weekly, and even monthly basis to support the school. Here is some of what we recorded:

And the list went on!

It was super helpful to talk with Deb during this step. Through our conversation we were able to expand and build on our thinking, reminding each other that, “Hey! We also do this!” or “Eh, we should probably clarify that a bit more.”

If you don’t have a colleague to brainstorm with, try using this list above to get some ideas going.

Download Your Free Coaching Roles and Responsibilities Brainstorm Sheet

3. Present and Get on the Same Page

The next step was to come together, present, and get on the same page.

In this discussion we were also able to clarify our beliefs that coaching is a partnership approach, non-evaluative, and the confidentiality of coaching conversations is to be respected.

Because we had prepared well, remained open, and clarified key points, the meeting was a success!

We recorded next steps on chart paper and were ready to move on to sharing with the staff.

4. Share with Staff

If you’re able to hold a staff meeting to share your clarified role as an Instructional Coach and how your work connects to the school’s overall support structure, my vote would be to start here.

I realize though, that in many cases an in-person staff meeting isn’t an option, and so email is your next best bet.

For us, we had a staff meeting a few years back, and since then have largely built a strong ‘culture of coaching’. So we didn’t see the need for this again.

To be transparent however, we did want to share the outcomes of our meeting with new and returning teachers alike. We delivered this via a simple and concise email.

From there, I have further worked to clarify coaching cycles with teachers on a one-one basis during our kick-off meetings.

OK, let’s pause here for a quick reflection. Where are your thoughts in connection to the following questions:

  • Can I easily explain the work I do as an Instructional Coach to others?
  • Do I feel clear on the work I am doing on a daily basis?
  • Am I on the same page as my principal and leadership team as to my coaching role and responsibilities?
  • Do teachers clearly understand how my work connects to the school’s overall support structure?
  • Do teachers understand how I am able to support them as a coach?

Hmmm. If you’re not feeling super confident in answering YES! to any of these questions, consider if there may be some further work to do on clarifying your Instructional Coaching role.

If you have any thoughts or questions that I may be able to help with, please share in the comments below. You can also always reach out to me through email. I’m here!

To clear skies and smooth sailing ahead,



PS: If you’re interested in learning more about Coaching Cycles, make sure to sign up for my Coaching Cycle Workshop! It’s taken me longer to put together than I had anticipated given some revisions and additions I’ve made, but I’m really excited about how it’s turning out and I’m getting close to being done. Shooting for end of October.

I’ll be offering a special Early Bird Price for those who sign up early for the Workshop, so don’t miss out!

DIY Creative School Welcome Wall

The kids have arrived! And it’s been fun, fun to see how excited everyone is to be back at school. The school is looking pretty good, and teachers are getting back into the routine and flow of our school days. But last week was a different story! Everyone was hustling to get classrooms set-up, first week plans figured out, and the school overall ready to greet kids for the first day.

One of the hustle projects I worked on was DIY-ing a Creative School Welcome Wall. It’s a project I’ve done for the past few years, and each year I think about how to do it a little differently. This year I was inspired to create a cool watercolor theme, and was super psyched about the result.

A school welcome wall is a terrific way to add some positivity and beauty to a school environment.

In case you’re thinking you might like to work on a School Welcome Wall yourself, here are the steps I took to create ours.

1. Choose a Space 

You can go big or small with the space you choose, but I’m always about bigger can be better when it comes to designing showcase boards/walls such as a Welcome Space. With this particular wall, I’m introducing our staff so I wanted to get as creative and artistic as I could in doing so. And for that, I needed a bigger space.

At first glance it was just a plain white wall, that I could have stuck a few photos to and called it good. But that just wouldn’t be my style.

So I fancied it up with some cool cabinet knobs that I found at Hobby Lobby. I asked our custodian to help me drill them in, then I had the perfect photo hanging accessory. A little black string tied from knob to knob, and voila! I’ve just created the perfect space to work with.

2. Take Some Photos

Next step – photos. I grabbed my camera, chose a consistent neutral background, and snapped away during a staff meeting break. That way, I had all 35+ staff members in the same location, and didn’t have to spend a ton of time tracking everyone down.

3. Gather Your Materials

Ooo, this was the fun part. I started by designing the watercolor “theme” I was going to go with, which included a Welcome sign, name frames, and small squares to serve as a backing for each teacher’s “fun fact.” (note – I printed all these materials on thick white paper both for better color and sturdiness)

And guess what?! I put together all the materials I created for the Welcome Wall in a downloadable kit just for you. Woo Hoo!

Sign up for blog updates and get the Free Watercolor Welcome Board Printables

4. Start Assembling

With the watercolor theme in mind, I chose black and kraft-colored card stock for the backing, and some fun washi tape for matting the photos.

I also asked teachers to write a “fun fact” about themselves on a post it note. These will be put on top of the watercolor squares.

5. Put It Up!

After each photo collage was assembled, I hung them up using more washi tape, and organized them by grade level/administration/specialist team. Teachers have been super busy with the first week of school, so I don’t have all the ‘fun facts’ up yet, but we’ll get there.

Once I had each photo hung, I stood back, admired my work, and gave myself a pat on the back for a job well done. It’s been fun to hear from teachers how excited they were to see the new staff Welcome Wall :)

And just for kicks, the glorious before and after of this fun and rewarding DIY project:

I hope you had some fun reading this post and thinking about what Welcome Space you may be able to create at your school for this year. If you do decide to DIY a Creative School Welcome Wall, send me a pic! I’d love to see it.

Happy School DIY-ing!