Gearing Up for Back to School ~ 5 Things Instructional Coaches MUST DO!
By Nicole S. Turner
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Summer is a time to recharge and relax. With the school year fast approaching, as a coach, you’ll need all your ducks in a row! As many of us search Pinterest for the latest ideas, cutest decorations, and new learning techniques, it’s important for us coaches to gear up for another fabulous school year! These 5 Things will help you prepare for a successful year!
One of my favorite sayings from a college professor is, “You’re either green and growing or ripe and rotting.” It’s stuck with me forever because I think it’s SO true!!! As a teacher, instructional coach, sports coach, aide, mentor, administrator, or whatever your role may be, if you are done learning, you may as well hang it up! With the world changing at such a fast pace, it’s important to stay on top of the latest and greatest ideas. Which brings us to #1 ~ Reflect!
Reflecting can be the single more important component to becoming a great instructional coach. It’s something valuable that we all do, but as a coach is crucial to becoming great! First of all, make a list of the positives. What went well this past year? What were the skills, lessons, or techniques that were the most successful? After you have a list of successes and positive thoughts, really do some soul searching on things that didn’t go well. As educators or even adults, admitting when things haven’t gone as planned and admitting that it may have been something done on our end, is hard. This is really where the reflecting does well for staying “Green and Growing!” When you’ve compounded a list, make a priority of what you’d like to change for the year. Chose one thing to focus on and make it happen! If you are able to successfully change that, add another! And with that, we have #2 ~ Research and #3 Make Contacts!
Actually, there is no specific order really for #2 or #3. It will depend on your preference as to what you want to do. Research is what you’ll want to do to get yourself prepared for the school year. After you’ve compiled a list of what it is you need to work on this year, you’ll have a place to start. Maybe you need new ideas about modeling, how to interact with staff, or how to keep kids motivated and engaged. Familiarizing yourself with new literature on a topic you need to change for the upcoming school year, is a must for gearing yourself up.
In order to have a direction for where your research needs to go, you will need to make contacts with your cooperating staff. It’s important to share goals and visions with the people who you’ll be working with. Again, as in the last post, some are reluctant to have a coach come into their classrooms, so building that relationship by hearing what goals your staff has, will help you to focus on what research you need to do. Make sure you don’t come across as a “quick fix” and truly have the passion to make a change WITH the staff, FOR the kids!
Ok, so now you’ve done some reflecting, research, made contacts, and are ready to ( #4 ) ORGANIZE! Take what you’ve reflected on by putting your positives first. This will help get you set for what comes next. It’s important to start with positives so that you are in the right frame of mind from the get go! Use the list of things that went well and put those as your focus on your “to-do” list. Next, take the one thing that you feel needs work and see if it crosses over with any of the goals that were shared between you and your staff. If the one thing that you feel doesn’t correlate with the goals shared by the staff, keep searching on your list, and I bet you’ll find one that does. Can’t? No problem! Choose one from your list and one from theirs! Grab your research resources and begin your journey!
#5 Listen, listen, listen! Don’t forget to keep your ears open! Our world is full of GREAT resources, many of which come from the people around us! Keep your ears open and a positive mindset and always have the best interest of the kids in mind! Reflecting, doing some research, making those contacts, and listening are all things that can help us grow! While doing a little soul searching, I came across this Zen Buddhism concept~ “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”