Engaging teachers in coaching is an ongoing process that requires planning and intentionality. Whether you are new to a school or have been there a while, the beginning of the year brings forth the opportunity to envision what our work will look like, and the impact it will have on teacher and student learning.
There’s nothing like the first few weeks of school. It’s a time to reconnect, reimagine, and dream. But just like anything else, starting a new year requires planning and patience. An apt metaphor is the spring gardening season. We just can’t wait to plant all of those beautiful flowers we picked up at the nursery, but a voice in our head reminds us that before planting, we need to first clean out the flower beds, till the soil, and add mulch. While this isn’t the glamorous part of the job, we know that if we put beautiful plants into soil that isn’t ready, they will fail to thrive. The same is true for our coaching. The first few weeks of school are when we do all of the work that sets us up for success in the months that will follow.
Starting the year off right always includes establishing a strong principal and coach partnership. We’ve all experienced incredible disruption over the past few years, and coming together around this work will be an important step forward. That said, this guidebook isn’t just about the past few years but should be viewed as a timeless resource that can be used year after year. Practices such as partnering with the principal to get crystal clear about the coaching role, understanding how to create a culture for coaching, and getting teachers excited to engage are important work that we always need to attend to. If you are like us, you are ready to plan an amazing new year. Let’s craft that plan together.
How To Use This Guidebook
We’ve designed our new guidebook with the goal of providing a clear path for coaches, principals, and district leaders to follow when launching a new year of Student-Centered Coaching. It is geared toward returning coaches, those who are new to a school, and those who are brand new to the role. We’ve included fifteen coaching moves that will take you through the first four to six weeks of the school year. As always, we have included strategies, tools, and artifacts to support your work. Included will be moments to pause and reflect on your own and with the principal. We truly hope you will mark up these pages with new thinking and ideas to try.
We recommend pairing this guidebook with our other resources on Student-Centered Coaching; The Essential Guide for Student-Centered Coaching (Sweeney and Harris, 2020) Student-Centered Coaching: The Moves (Sweeney and Harris, 2016, Leading Student-Centered Coaching (Sweeney and Mausbach, 2018), and Student-Centered Coaching from a Distance (Sweeney and Harris, 2021). These will take you deeper into the philosophy and practices for Student-Centered Coaching, and will support your work far beyond the start to the year.
We often find that with coaching, you have to go slow to go fast. Let’s slow down and invest carefully in those first few weeks of school so that beautiful things can grow throughout the year.
© Diane Sweeney Consulting