Instructional coaches, much like everyone in education, have experienced teaching and coaching on a whole new level this year. This year my school has had students being online, in-person, then back online again, or some combination of the two. Teachers, administrators, and instructional coaches have all had to learn how to handle the classroom in a different way. Because of all of this, we need to make sure to get feedback from teachers on how we did and what they need. Why? Feedback from teachers helps us reflect on what we did throughout the year and give us an opportunity to be better.Why Instructional Coaches Need to Reflect
Reflection is an instrumental part of education. When we observe teachers, we ask them to reflect on what went well and what they can improve on. Expecting this of our teachers means we should expect this of ourselves. Much like we help teachers reflect, teachers can help us reflect on what we did that was awesome and was less than stellar about our coaching.
What Should I Ask?
There are so many hats an instructional coach wears. Because of this, you need to make sure you are asking questions that cover all the bases. When you are asking questions, there are various categories you will want to make sure you include such as:
Building Relationships: How much time/effort did you put into building a positive relationship with a teacher. There are a few questions you can ask to gauge where you were.
Questioning Without Judgement: Did you ask questions that were helpful and not “condescending” to the teacher? Knowing how to improve your word choice can really impact a teacher’s response to you.
Remaining Student Focused: When you were coaching, did you focus on what was best for the students? Often times we can let personal ideas get in the way of good coaching. Yes, we need to correct “bad teaching” practices, but we need to make sure the change is for the student not just because we don’t agree with that style.
Making Data-Informed Decisions: When you asked the teacher to make changes, was it because the data told you there was a need for change? Just like being student-focused is important, knowing that you’re changing things based on evidence is vital.
These are just five of the eight categories you should consider when having teachers evaluate you as an instructional coach. This reflection on your performance will help you see which specific area you need to work on more. Is it one of these four areas or do you need help taking more risks or being current on new technology and teaching methods? You’ll never know if you don’t give them the survey.
Don’t Be Basic
While surveys are a great place to start, you might want more data that explains what a teacher experienced. Asking teachers what your strengths and weaknesses were can be beneficial and perfect partner for the survey you send out. In addition, it’s always great to get ideas about “what’s next” in the classroom. This is true whether it’s for next semester or next year. Having a jumping-off point helps us spend more time on improving and less time on deciding what’s next the following term or school year.
How to Get Teacher Feedback
There are many ways you can get teacher feedback from SurveyMonkey to using a simple Google Form. However, using a form that breaks down several categories at the end of every season (fall, winter, and spring) more beneficial than generic questions. This survey, breaks down several areas of coaching and asks teachers to really reflect on what you did for them that was helpful and what they could have used more help with.
We are constantly asking teachers to reflect on their practices, and instructional coaches need to do the same. By having a powerful tool that will help you see what’s great and what need work, you are sure to improve your coaching as well as your effectiveness in your building. While it may be scary to see the bad, you might be surprised how big of an impact you’re making in the classroom wherever that may be.
Being an Instructional Coach can be taxing to say the least. We are teachers of teachers. We are data bases. We are advocates for students. We wear so many hats that sometimes the ones that are most important get put on the backburner. It’s important we remember to pull out the “I’m still a person” hat, “mom/dad” hat, or any other hat we previously enjoyed wearing before school started up again. Not getting to wear all the hats you want to can be frustrating, but wearing too many hats can be downright stressful.
Being an instructional coach is all about helping teachers maximize their time and resources to create engaged students who become life-long learners. The best way to accomplish that is through taking a dive into a nice pool of data!
The biggest and most important job we have as instructional coaches is to give feedback to the teachers we work with. While it can be easy to focus on the areas teachers need to improve on, it is always important to provide teachers with positive feedback. There are many ways and reasons to provide positive feedback to teachers and in doing so, you will create stronger relationships with those you work with.
During my training as a teacher, I learned instructional strategies to teach lessons and deal with my students in the classroom. When I transitioned to being a coach, I soon realized that coaching was similar to teaching, my teachers became my students and I had to figure out strategies to best support them.
I remember being a little girl and my friends and I would play school in the garage with papers we had gotten from our teachers. My one friend down the street would stand in front of us with a ruler and wave it as she taught us a lesson.