Instructional Coaches’ Requests to Principals

I have written earlier blogs about the critical partnership necessary between instructional coaches and principals for effective teacher change that produces increased student achievement.

Recently I spent a day with a district wide group of instructional coaches working on the school improvement plans for their buildings. We used a backwards plan beginning with the identification of specific student growth that they wanted as a goal. Then they identified what student actions/work would be needed to produce that learning. Next they listed key teacher performances and actions that would generate the desired student behaviors. Then came the focus of what the coaches would provide teachers collectively and individually to support the needed teacher behaviors.

As the coaches created their work projects and timelines, it became clear that coaches needed certain actions from the principal and the administrative team if they were to be successful. Here is what this group of coaches identified they wanted principals to do:

Attend trainings that coaches provided to teachers.

Coaches wanted principals to understand and learn the strategies that were being presented to the teachers. Administrator attendance also communicates the importance of the learning.

Reinforce that the focus teacher behaviors from the plan are important and expected.

Coaches thought this should occur both in messages to the staff in meetings but most importantly in walk-throughs and discussions following classroom observations. This reinforced why administrator involvement in the professional development was critical.

Make the scheduled PD learning time sacred.

In this district each school has one afternoon a week where teachers are committed to an extended hour for PD. As happens in many schools, issues and deadlines for district and state requirements encroach on staff learning time. Coaches wanted to plan for the full use of the available learning time.

Evaluate and supervise the “unwilling” staff.

If teacher performance was below acceptable and teachers were unwilling to change, coaches wanted administrators to carry out the system’s supervisory plan. Non-performance that is not addressed sends the wrong message, not just to the unwilling but to the rest of the staff as well….undermining the work of the coach.

Coaches and administrators may want to review this list together. What additions would you make?

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3 Responses to “ Instructional Coaches’ Requests to Principals ”

  1. pmfmjm Says:

    These four requests to principals, if followed through, can make the time teachers spend with the coach much more useful and effective. I would add one more to the list: principals respect the trusting relationships that coaches establish with teachers. This relationship is the bedrock all of our work is based on and should never be taken advantage of by administrators. When teachers take risks to learn or try something new, this can be done with the support if a coach, and teachers are more willing if they know their learning process is in no way evaluated. We must be able to maintain confidences.

  2. pmfmjm Says:

    These four requests to principals, if followed through, can make the time teachers spend with the coach much more useful and effective. I would add one more to the list: principals respect the trusting relationships that coaches establish with teachers. This relationship is the bedrock all of our work is based on and should never be taken advantage of by administrators. When teachers take risks to learn or try something new, this can be done with the support if a coach, and teachers are more willing if they know their learning process is in no way evaluated. We must be able to maintain confidences.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Beth from GA said…
    As always, your article is spot on, Steve. Thank you for your honest approach to tackling tough problems. Do you know where I could find a detailed description of the role of a coach (maybe even a chart of what a coach is and what a coach isn’t)? I think your 4 coach requests to principals are excellent and veracious. Thank you for your valuable contribution to the educational realm.

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Steve Barkley

For the past 30 years, Steve has served as a consultant to school districts, teacher organizations, state departments of education, and colleges and universities nationally and internationally, facilitating the changes necessary for them to reach students and successfully prepare them for the 21st century. Read more…

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