Written by: Diane Sweeney, author of Student-Centered Coaching: The Moves (Corwin, 2016) and Leading Student-Centered Coaching (Corwin, 2017)
Each week we receive emails from districts that would like to implement Student-Centered Coaching. Many of these districts have coaches. Others are just getting started. The conversation often turns to resources that are available. Should they buy a certain book? Take a certain course? Or hire us to come and work with their team? While these are important questions to ask, we may be asking them too soon. What I mean is we’ve learned that if we want to get the most out of a coaching effort, then we can benefit from slowing down to design not only what coaching will look like, but who will be doing it.
Stage One: Design and Pre Launch
Stage one is about design. It’s the stage that is most often skipped, creating confusion among coaches, teachers, and even school leaders.
- Build stakeholder’s (superintendent, district leaders, principals, coaches, and teacher leaders) knowledge and understanding of the methods and practices for Student-Centered Coaching.
- Develop a job description for coaches that aligns with the methods and practices for Student-Centered Coaching.
- Develop a rigorous process for hiring coaches. This includes an assessment of the candidate’s teaching background, interpersonal skills, learning stance, and willingness to engage as a coach using the methods and practices for Student-Centered Coaching.
- Hire coaches that will be released to coach at least 50% of their FTE. Avoid asking other support roles to add coaching to their responsibilities (i.e. counselors, psychologists, librarians, etc.) unless it will be 50% of their FTE.
- In larger schools (i.e. secondary schools), use student performance data to determine which departments will be involved in coaching.
Stage Two: Launch
At this stage, it’s time to build an understanding among teachers. We believe that coaching is for all teachers, not just those who are struggling, so the messaging is broad based.
- School leader introduces the coaching role to the faculty. Focus is on why coaching matters and what it will look like. In larger schools, this occurs with the teachers who will be expected to engage in coaching.
- School leader meets with each team or grade level to discuss the expectations for participation in coaching. Teachers are invited to ask questions and raise concerns. In larger schools, this occurs with departments that will be expected to engage in coaching.
- School leader and coach meet weekly to develop a plan for what coaching will look like, how the coach will spend his/her time, and how the impact of coaching will be monitored.
- School leader and coach develop a system for launching coaching cycles.
- The coach launches coaching cycles with the goal of engaging in two to four coaching cycles at a time.
- The coach is provided with ongoing training and support.
Stage Three: Implement and Monitor
Continuously monitoring the impact of coaching is essential. How is coaching impacting student learning? How is teacher practice evolving? And what are the perceptions of coaching among teachers? Monitoring in this way also provides opportunities to celebrate the work throughout the school community.
- On a weekly basis, the school leader and coach meet.
- At the end of coaching cycles, the school leader and coach discuss the impact of coaching cycles using the Results-Based Coaching Tool. (For more information, read Student-Centered Coaching: The Moves)
- On a semester basis, teachers provide the school leader and coach with feedback regarding how coaching is going. This can be achieved through a survey of teachers.
- On a semester basis, the school leader and coach share the impact that coaching is making on teaching and learning throughout the school.
- Throughout the school year, the school leader provides ongoing feedback to the coach using the Rubric for Student-Centered Coaching. (For more information, read Leading Student-Centered Coaching)
- At the end of the school year, the school leader evaluates the coach using an aligned framework for evaluation. We recommend the Rubric for Student-Centered Coaching.
In the seminal book Good to Great, Jim Collins writes, “Leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. And they stick with that discipline—first the people, then the direction—no matter how dire the circumstances.” This also applies to implementing a coaching program. Let’s get the right people on the bus, get them in the right seats, and then support them to do this important work.
If you’d like help with any of the stages of implementation of Student-Centered Coaching, we’d love to help. You can reach us at: https://dianesweeney.com/contact-us/.
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