A lot of people have been asking me how my new job has been going this year – from people I worked with just six months ago to six years ago, and even some of the new teachers I am currently coaching. I keep getting the same *nervous* question, “How are you liking your new role…?”
So I’ll just get into it and say it’s great…but stressful; like really stressful. It’s no secret that Instructional Coaching is my passion and the job that I believe that I’m meant for – whereas others might see it is a stepping stone to being a principal (and it can be a natural step), that’s not how I see it at all. Good coaching can have a massive impact on the entire school staff, and thus a massive impact on the students they serve – and to just “plug” someone into that role for a year or two so they can figure out how to be a principal seems like a seriously short-sighted (and selfish) decision IMHO.
At the same time, a lot of people also ask what IS it that I actually do as an instructional coach. From what I can tell from talking with coaches in my district, as well as other parts of the country – it can vary dramatically. At my new school, my role is about as pure as instructional coaching can get. I meet regularly with teachers, they set goals, and I help them reach those goals. I keep track of my time with an app called TOGGL and here’s how I spend a typical week:
That’s as simply as I can put it, but at the same time there are so many things that I do that don’t show up in the job description. For instance, last week I scrubbed down the entire staff lounge so that we could have a training in a space that didn’t smell like old hot dogs and leave food stains on everyone’s paperwork. I also spent my time running to the grocery store to buy treats for teachers, organizing a potluck for conference night, and convincing everyone to sign cards for “Bosses Day” (hence the miscellaneous category above).
Why is it so stressful? Because almost every moment is helping someone solve a problem – and the thing with adults is that you can’t just tell them what the answer is even if it’s staring you in the face. You have to say things like, “Why do you think [said problem] is happening?” “What might it look like if you tried [said problem] differently?”
This doesn’t just include teachers – this includes my boss, the big dog, the principal to rule them all. Of course he helps me solve problems, too, but mostly it’s me delicately phrasing open-ended questions, “How do you suggest we try [insert said solution]?”
And inevitably, everyone wants to barf out all of their issues, problems, concerns any time they see me coming. As a classroom teacher, you spend so much of your day answering tiny questions and giving directions that by the time you come home you can’t even decide what to eat for dinner. As a coach, it’s totally the opposite. I spend so much time listening and holding in my opinions, that by the time I get home I just want to bark orders about everything! “The dishes go in the dishwasher!” “We are going to watch Project Runway!” “The cats need more water!”
The good news is that I get to see teachers in action, doing their thing. To watch a teacher who really has it down is a great sense of relief; I can think to myself, These students are being taken care of and move on next door to the place that needs more support.
I’m sure I’ll write much more about coaching as the year progresses, but for all of those who have been asking – yes, my job is good. It’s fast-paced, requires creative problem-solving and allows me to play 30 minutes of soccer with the boys everyday at lunch. It’s a great fit.