Taking on the role of an instructional coach has been the most challenging and the most rewarding professional decision I’ve made over the last seventeen years. Although I still provide stand-alone workshops and value them for specific purposes, I’ve realized that asking teachers to embrace change without providing them necessary support is often a waste of valuable resources.
As a professional development model, coaching may seem fairly new to some, but the processes involved are often very common ones–in fact, most them are simply fundamental components of all good instruction. In my experience, implementing an effective coaching model has much more to do with the collective development of goals and outcomes, evaluation, reflective practice, and peer review than it does with training that can be provided within the confines of a single event. There are some wonderful workshops out there to be certain, and I enjoy attending them. But my work as a coach is better enriched by my personal learning network, professional literature, and the work that I’m completing as a member of my learning community.
Every coaching opportunity presents unique challenges and the needs of every district, building, teacher, and student are widely varied. I’ve learned that coaching well means learning much about the ways in which groups work, how to gather and make meaning from data, and how to position myself less as an expert to be followed and more often as a facilitator who can lend support. Also, coaching isn’t about leading conversation as much as it is about generating it. Honing my questioning and my listening skills has been important.
Over the last few months, several people have asked that I share my favorite coaching resources with them, and I’ve been meaning to post them here in response. I hope you find them as valuable as I have. I’m also happy to share the coaching models that I’ve developed this year and my processes for goal setting and program evaluation as well. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested!
- Standards for Middle and High School Literacy Coaches were developed by the International Reading Association, in cooperation with NCTE, NCTM, NSTA, and NCSS.
- I’ve come to respect the work of Jim Knight very much and the Kansas Coaching Project provides a wealth of information, research, tools, and training opportunities for potential coaches, teachers, and administrators.
- The National School Reform Faculty shares a wealth of incredible resources, and I especially like the protocols provided on their resource page.
- The Literacy Coaching Clearinghouse is phenomenal, and this piece provides a useful starting point for those wondering where to begin.
- The National Staff Development Council provides various resources for school-based staff developers, and I’ve found some of these articles useful in my own learning.
- Several books have influenced my work as well, including these favorites: Assessing Impact: Evaluating Staff Development by Joellen Killion, Communities that Learn, Lead, and Last: Building and Sustaining Educational Expertise by Giselle O. Martin-Kniep, and Literacy Coaching: The Essentials by Katherine Casey.