I have learned so much about instructional coaching, and quite honestly, it is so different from what I thought it was going to be. In my mind, instructional coaching was going to be folks coming to me for instructional advice, much like Lucy at her psychiatrist's booth. While instructional coaching can reflect that, it is different on so many levels. Below are some points which I have learned about instructional coaching. Though much comes from Jim Knight’s book Instructional Coaching, a lot comes from my own field experiences this past semester:
- Coaching is a partnership. Instructional coaching is not a top-down implementation, with an expert blindly dispensing advice to novices. Rather, both parties come to the table as experts in their areas and possess knowledge/information which the other needs. Each party needs the other in order to succeed, and no one is more important than the other.
- Coaching is relational. Instructional coaching is not a one-time meeting but is a process. It takes time for trust and a level of comfort to be established. Not every potential coachee is open to the idea of being coached.
- Coaching is non-judgmental. It is important to create an atmosphere of trust and of respect for the coachee. Though colleagues may disagree with each other pedagogically, it is imperative that both treat each other with respect, as both are professionals.
- Coaching requires close listening and asking the right questions. What is the coachee saying? What is it that the coachee exactly wants? What parameters are the coachee setting? If this is to be a partnership relationship, then it is imperative that the coachee be heard. As the instructional coach, it is very easy to come to the table with one’s own agenda and plan for success. While the coach’s lesson may work out with a wonderful outcome in the classroom, it may be not at all what the coachee wanted.
- Coaching allows for a coachee to find his/her voice. Although the coach may be an expert, he/she is not the one in front of the coachee’s classroom. While giving the coachee a pre-made lesson which a coach has created may yield classroom success, that is not the coachee’s voice but rather the coach’s. The coachee’s voice is one which needs to come through in the lesson. As part of a partnership relationship, both parties craft a lesson together which reflects each voice.
- Coaching involves potential rejection. Not everyone is open to the idea of instructional coaching, and even in a coaching relationship, coachees may reject suggestions/ideas and even the coach.
I hope to be able to facilitate this knowledge with world language teachers. I will be serving as an apprentice coach this summer at IFLT, so I am looking forward to add that experience to my instructional coaching arsenal.
I wonder if I have found a new calling...