Taking on a Coaching Role…. and More Than a Little Afraid
Course 5, Choice Blog #4
Hooray! But also Oh No!
In my previous blog post, I shared the wonderful news that I have been given an instructional coach role at my school for next year. It has been about four weeks since I signed my new contract to take on this new role and I am not afraid to admit that after some time the joy over my new position has faded a bit and some nervousness has worked its way in.
My school is a fairly small international school in Qingdao, China. As a city, Qingdao doesn’t have the largest ex-patriot population and with the heavy Covid-related travel restrictions the “expat” community has shrunk even more. These restrictions have meant far fewer families moving in, more families leaving, and many challenges for replacing teachers. All this to say, that the staff at our school wear many hats. Outside of a few classroom teachers, most people serve the community in many roles. Next year, I will do the same. While I am going to take on an instructional coaching role, the struggle to hire new teachers means that I will also most likely remain in the classroom as well.
It is of course not ideal to be a class teacher and try to fulfill the role of instructional coach, but it means a lot to me to be given this opportunity, so I am happy to face the challenge. Luckily, I am being given support to reduce my classroom-related workload. I will only have about 12 students next year, but will still have a full-time co-teacher, Nora. She worked with me this year as well, so we know how to work together and can support each other easily. Nora will take over teaching the Math content to the students which will free up more time for my coaching role.
What does a coach do?
Although I have worked in many schools throughout my career, I have only worked in one previous school with an instructional coach system, so my experience with instructional coaches is limited. Additionally, I will be the first instructional coach for my current school. So the department is just, well, me. That’s more than just a little intimidating.
With no one to mentor me as I start in this brand new role, I was beginning to feel uneasy about my ability to take on this responsibility. Then as luck would have it, I was browsing through the course five blogging suggestions when I came across several links relating to coaching. That is when I found the Eduro Learning Youtube videos for Instructional Coaches.
I have now watched many of the videos, and they are truly an amazing resource! It also occurred to me that Eduro Learning might also offer courses for coaching. Sadly, it seems that I have missed the deadline for joining The Coach Certificate Program this year. However, I am already working on my graduate degree now, so it probably would have been too much to take on altogether.
For now, I have found that Eduro offers several shorter, self-paced courses that I can take to help me prepare for my new role. I love that they are self-paced because I can work them around my current schedule and hopefully not feel overwhelmed. This has made me feel more secure in my ability to take on this new role.
What I Learned Today
In the meantime, I have watched several Youtube videos from Kim Confino about the key roles and qualities of valuable instructional coaches. Here are my three big takeaways so far related to my unique situation.
A valuable coach is an empathetic partner in learning who is able to anticipate the needs of the teachers. Since I will remain working as a classroom teacher next year alongside my coaching role, I think I will be in a very good position to do this. I will face similar problems and concerns as the other teachers, so it will be easier to work with them from a place of understanding.
A valuable coach is consistent, reliable, and flexible. This part could prove to be a bit trickier. While I consider myself to be a reliable person, especially at work. I can predict that there might be times when it is hard to be consistently present and helpful to other teachers when I have my own class and students to consider. I want to be sure I am making time and showing up for teachers when they need me, as Kim Confino mentions in her videos. However, I will always have my first priority for my students. It will be a challenging balancing act for sure.
A valuable coach is a motivated self-starter working within a clear role and framework. This area is something that I need to spend some time working on. I generally see myself as self-motivated and I have taken many opportunities in previous schools to develop programs or make suggestions for improvements. So that part should be fine, it is the clarity of the role that needs to be developed in my current school. At the present time, I don’t have a clear-cut job description for my coaching role. As the first instructional coach in my school, I will need to design the coaching framework with the support of my administration. However, this can be a good thing as well. Since I will still be working as a teacher, I can design my job description to include responsibilities that wouldn’t be overwhelming to me. I could include the areas that I am an expert in and take on responsibilities that are reasonable for me in my dual role.
Continuing my Eduro Education
This morning when I sat down to think about my fourth blog post, I really didn’t think I would end up here, but I am very pleasantly surprised by everything that I have learned today. As I am closing in on the end of my work for COETAIL, I am excited to continue to work with the Eduro Learning team to further my professional development. It seems truly fitting, as my work with them on COETAIL has propelled me into my new position.
Thank you again, COETAIL!