A Semester in the Coaching Life

An instructional coach, that is. Specifically an English Learners coach. Over the past decade, the school district I work for has adopted a instructional coaching model as part of it’s professional development and push to raise test scores. I can’t speak for middle and high schools, but every elementary school has a Literacy Coach and many of them have Numeracy Coaches and Consulting Teachers. These are certified teachers with teaching experience who are now out of the classroom but supporting and coaching teachers. (Note: This is still a “teacher” position, not admin – we get paid teacher salary and work teacher schedule.)

Instructional coaches do a wide variety of tasks, including providing site-based professional development, individually working with teachers, making materials for teachers, modeling lessons, helping with assessment, and working with small groups of students. Instructional coaches are typically also on school leadership teams, where they look at student data and work on plans to help struggling students and raise test scores.

My job is slightly different as there are only five Elementary EL Coaches (technically we’re called Consultants, but you get the idea) in the district, so each of us have roughly 12 schools. I have 13 schools, although 4 of them don’t have English Learners, so I work with 9 schools regularly. It’s my job to help teachers who work with EL students (whether or not they’re certified EL teachers – although typically those are the ones I mostly work with). So I thought I’d update you about what I’ve been doing the past semester.

I’ve worked a lot with individual teachers, which I love. Some of it is just meeting and talking about ideas, or answering questions. Sometimes I teach a lesson to a teacher’s students. Sometimes I make materials or centers for teachers to use. Whatever it is, it’s been great to develop relationships with these teachers, and sometimes with their students.

I’ve also done some trainings and PD sessions, which I also enjoy. I am very comfortable in front of people, although I still get the tiniest bit nervous before every training. I am learning a lot about working with adults and how different that is from working with kids. Training adults in a way that is going to be meaningful to them is an art form, and I certainly have not mastered it, but I am getting better.

I have sat in TONS of meetings. I never thought I would have to attend so many things in this job! Some of the meetings are school-based like Leadership Team meetings or Student Support Team meetings. Others are trainings that I am required to go to. The whole-day trainings can be mentally draining, but in terms of content, everything I’ve attended so far has been really great information and ideas.

Another portion of my job is checking on compliance issues like making sure all EL students are getting their hours with an EL certified teacher, and that recently exited students’ grades are getting monitored. I also have the task of informing my teachers of relevant EL information.

I still come home exhausted at the end of every day, but overall I am both challenged and fulfilled by this position. I am learning so many new things and sometimes I long for a class of students to try out those ideas on, but then I’m so glad to not have to grade papers! 🙂 I have made some mistakes and screwed up a few times, but I try to dust myself off and keep on trucking. I am so thankful to 1) have a job and 2) have a job that I like.


P.S. You can read more posts about coaching here and here.

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