3 Steps to Clarify Your Instructional Coaching Role and Responsibilities

Are you wanting to head into the school year with a clear vision of your instructional coaching role and responsibilities? Let’s walkthrough three steps to help you do just that.

instructional coaching roles and responsibilities

Clarifying your role and responsibilities as an instructional coach can feel exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. As a coach myself, I understand how important this is as a first step in setting yourself up for a successful school year.

As coaches, we are capable of doing a lot of things, but not everything! Lack of clarity and focus will leave you stretched too thin in your work and frustrated in your efforts.

Now that I’ve worked through clarifying my own  coaching role and responsibilities several times in my career, I can share three steps to help you do the same!

3 Steps to Clarify Your Instructional Coaching Role and Responsibilities

1. Define What Instructional Coaches Do

Instructional coaches can play many roles and assume multiple responsibilities in a school building. It is helpful to begin with brainstorming what these roles currently are in your building or could be. For myself, I have found it to be most helpful to pair up with a coaching buddy or colleague and do some brainstorming.

Questions to ask during this time could include:

  • What is the work we do on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis to support the school?
  • Where are we feeling stretched too thin?
  • What is needed most by teachers and students this year?

If you are new to a school, you might talk with the previous instructional coach. You could also use the Clarify Your Instructional Coaching Role and Responsibilities Planning Kit to support you with this.

 

2. Meet With Your Principal

Now that you have a better idea of what you believe your coaching role and responsibilities should be, the next step will be to meet with your principal.

During this time, you will want to present what you’re thinking, ask clarifying questions, and get on the same page.

If you need support for creating a “Meet With Your Principal” agenda, I’ve created one for you in the Clarify Your Instructional Coaching Role and Responsibilities Planning Kit

Record your communication and any needed next steps, so you have a record of the conversation and are prepared to move forward.

3. Share With Staff

Now that you’ve done some personal reflection on your coaching role and responsibilities, and you’ve gotten on the same page with your principal, it’s time to share with staff.

I would suggest holding an all staff meeting to share your clarified role as an instructional coach for the building and how your work connects to the school’s overall support structure. This way you and your principal are able to share the same unified message, and answer any clarifying questions as a team.

Working through these three steps will help you build a “culture of coaching” at your school.

Here are a few other related posts you may like:

Happy Coaching!

 

4 Tips for Coaching Outside of Your Content Area

Instructional coaching roles can look differently across school buildings and districts. Some instructional coaches focus solely on literacy, math, technology, or another content area. While other instructional coaches are “cross content” coaches and wear several different hats.

My instructional coaching has always focused on literacy, and at times, I have worked alongside a math coach. This year, I have focused on 3-5 literacy coaching and our new instructional coach is focusing on K-2. Considering what math coaching looks like within this new set-up, is something we have been thinking about as a leadership team.

Anyhow, we recently kicked off our quarter 4 coaching cycles, and one of the teachers I am working with was especially interested in a math focused coaching cycle. I took a moment to consider then thought, “What the heck?!” and decided to take the plunge.

Here are four tips that have helped me move into a coaching cycle outside of my content area.

As with all coaching cycles, I enter our kick-off coaching meeting through a lens of partnership and dialogue. As Jim Knight explains, through a partnership approach, neither teacher nor coach is the “expert.” Rather, we’re both equal partners and as your coach, I’m here to support you with your professional goals connected to student achievement. 

Entering this math focused coaching cycle through this lens, took the pressure off of having to be the “content expert”, and I felt more confident moving forward.

Part of our job, as instructional coaches, is being knowledgeable about high leverage and evidence based instructional practices that make a difference for students despite the content area. 

These instructional practices might include:

  • Formative assessment
  • Questioning strategies
  • Student Discourse
  • Differentiation
  • Feedback

With this in mind, I’ve been able to apply what I know about good instruction, in general, to my work in this math coaching cycle. Our focus in turn, has been on using small groups to intentionally differentiate whole group instruction.

When it comes to literacy, I feel very familiar and fluent with our curriculum, assessments, and standards. However with math, not as much! So I have been blocking off extra time each week to prepare and plan: reading, reviewing, and processing the math unit we’re working in. I’m learning a ton and enjoying the process!

A habit I’ve been working on more this year is taking time for reflection at the end of the week to support my learning and growth as an instructional coach.

As part of this coaching cycle, I’ve been reflecting on my coaching moves and feedback for next steps. Were they the right ones? Am I working with the teacher to navigate our work in the right direction? Reflection supports me with any needed course correction, week to week.

Fridays are asynchronous for us, so I coach from home

I hope you were able to make some connections from this post on coaching outside of your content area to your own instructional coaching work.

Happy Coaching, and see you back on the blog soon!

How to Time Block Your Week: A Productive Instructional Coach Habit!

Every Sunday afternoon, I figure out in advance everything that I need to do for the week ahead and create a time blocked plan to work from. Instead of trying to be generally productive or working off a random task list, I thoughtfully organize my work according to what must be done this week, divide my open hours into blocks, and assign specific work to the blocks. This kind of planning takes some time up front (usually sixty to ninety minutes for me), but it returns much greater productivity for the week that follows.

To give you a better idea of what this looks like, I’ll walk you through how I created a recent time blocked weekly plan.

Everything that you need to do in the coming week, including all of the random thoughts and ideas floating around in your head, must be written down and captured. Go through your email (print, if needed to pull out actions), coaching notes, google docs, etc. Also look back at your past week….what needs to be carried over to the coming week? Look ahead…what is coming up that you need to get started on this week? What coaching communication needs to be sent out or completed such as confirming coaching debriefs and updating coaching logs. The more thoroughly you CAPTURE all of these items, the fewer open loops you will have and in turn the less stress you will feel.

Once you’ve thoroughly captured all of your to-dos, you can then start to organize. Sort everything into like groups, and for each task add an estimate for how long you think that task (or group of tasks) will take. This will give you a realistic picture of whether or not everything will “fit” into your coming week. And remember, you’re only focusing on what MUST get done this week. Everything else will need to wait.

Cal Newport (love him!) talks about the importance of controlling your time through daily and weekly plans. I use Google Calendar for all of my time specific meetings and appointments, but for my weekly time blocked plan, I ALWAYS write it out in my Time & ToDo Planner. Pen to paper in this step REALLY helps me visualize all the different parts and pieces of my week.

Once you’ve organized all of your to-dos for the week and assigned time estimates, you can begin to block out chunks of time throughout the week to complete your tasks. Below, I’ll give a further explanation of my common time blocks.

Here’s an overview of my different time blocks for this week:

I begin my weekly plan by time blocking anything on my Google Calendar. I use a green pen and a thicker line to indicate these blocks. With these times blocked off, I can now see what open hours I have to work with for the rest of my plan.

I group all of my email and smaller administrative tasks into a daily morning block, so I can “batch task” these items. I will also block out two additional email blocks each day, so that I’m not working from my inbox all day. This isn’t easy, but I’m getting better.

For projects and deep work, I think about my coachees, grade level planning, PD, or anything else currently on my plate. Right now that includes:

  • 5 coachees
  • 5th grade
  • Friday PD
  • CMAS prep

I’ll then figure out what needs to be done for each of the project categories and I’ll block off time accordingly in my weekly plan.

Don’t forget to schedule a lunch break for yourself! My lunch isn’t always at the same time every day, and depending on meetings/coaching, I might not get a lunch break, if I don’t plan it. I like taking 30 minutes to eat some lunch and take a quick walk outside, so I’ll time block it!

The Daily Shutdown Ritual is another tip I picked up from Cal Newport. This is an important piece of his time blocking strategy, and I’ve been working on incorporating it into my own. The idea is that once your daily shutdown is “complete” you can move into the rest of your afternoon or evening free of any worries or stress about what you didn’t get done or what you need to do tomorrow. 

I also like to time block and plan personal things like exercise and dinner. Additionally, I’ve been working on reading more, so that is something reflected in this weekly plan.

With a time blocked weekly plan, you’ll head into your week feeling confident and in control. 

Yes, unexpected things will come up and you’ll need to stay flexible. But the important thing is that you have a plan, and with a plan you’ll be able to make more informed decisions as to what you’re saying yes or no to. Revisions can then be made fairly stress free.

Thanks for reading, and I will talk to you soon!

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