Literacy coaching is kind of a strange job. And effective coaches need a lot of support. I’m not sure I’ve ever talked to another coach outside of my own district that had job duties identical to mine. Even among coaches in my own district, there is variation based on the needs of the students and teachers of the school we may be working in. But after eleven years of working with adult learners, the two things I know for sure is that coaching is about building relationships and coaches should never be evaluators. Coaches cannot build relationships with co-professionals if they are viewed as evaluators. I try to focus my conversations with teachers, at least initially, on their students. And it makes sense. The concept of coaching came from the idea that teachers and classroom practice have a significant impact on student achievement. If I can assist a teacher to find joy and success in their teaching, children benefit.
But if coaches are there to support teachers and kids, who props up the coach? Professional development and collaboration with other literacy coaches helps. But sometimes you just need someone to talk to, have coffee with, or cry with. So, to Beth and any other first year literacy coaches out there, since I can't meet you at Starbucks or Panera and talk, here is my short list of things for you to think about as you dive over the cliff into coaching :
|A sampling of stuff currently|
piled on my desk at home.
· Follow through and show up on time.
· It is more important to present yourself as a learner than trying to act like the “expert.”
· Spend as much time as possible living in classrooms and working with kids rather than sitting at your computer.
· When you feel discouraged or beaten down, focus on helping children know how brilliant they are. Kids are the best medicine for an ailing literacy coach.
· Teachers have reasons for EVERYTHING they do. Don’t make assumptions and don’t pass judgment.
· Keep growing your own knowledge. There is ALWAYS more to learn!