Maximize Your Coaching Cycle

Principal coaching their staff

As a practical principal and instructional leader, you’re consistently reflecting on the successes of your campus and determining the next steps to continue your students’ growth. When you think of your next steps, coaching your teachers toward continuous improvement is likely at the top of the list of campus needs you want to focus on. You’re noticing that while regular observations, feedback, and support in PLCs are effective for many teachers, you also identify some teachers who would benefit from one-on-one coaching cycles.

As an instructional leader who promotes continuous improvement for all, you know the value of developing your teachers because it yields successful outcomes for your students. But how can administrators and evaluators COACH teachers? It is a significant time commitment and a departure from some people’s view of the administrator.

However, the administrator supporting as a coach is arguably a leadership move that yields an incredible return on investment- your students will be more successful, your teachers will feel more capable and supported, and it will ultimately positively impact your campus climate. Effective coaching truly can be the gift that keeps on giving.

So, how can you maximize the benefits of the time you invest in coaching some of your teachers? You must develop and reflect on your skillset to become an effective coach.

High-Yield Coaching Competencies

As you engage with your teachers in coaching cycles, you must understand the skills needed to coach and guide your teachers effectively. These foundational skills support the success and efficiency of the time you invest in one-to-one coaching with your teachers.

Prerequisite Coaching Skills

Let’s take a deeper look at what these all mean. As an effective coach, a necessary starting point is creating a safe and supportive environment. You need to ensure psychological safety for reflection, honesty, and growth. You must listen to understand the entire message that is being shared. And lastly, you need to be able to be the mirror for your coachee to summarize or clarify the message they are sharing.

Secondary Coaching Skills

An effective coach’s next set of skills includes questioning that provokes deeper thought, understanding, or reflection on the teacher’s instructional practice. You must be fully present and engaged in this conversation. You need to use the questions to guide the conversation while being open and flexible to the teacher’s input.

This is the critical balancing act of a coaching conversation. You collaborate with the teacher to solve problems and reflect, guide them when support is needed, and accept their input and ideas. Lastly, an effective coaching conversation must shift the teacher’s paradigm to see their instruction differently, allowing them to chart a different path toward student success.

Advanced Coaching Skills

The final and essential competencies of the most influential coaches require the coach to present data or evidence to the teacher that provokes awareness and self-reflection. These are the springboard opportunities to impact meaningful change in practice. They are the “aha” moments for the admin-teacher relationship.

Once the teacher has that realization, a highly effective administrator/coach needs to be able to support their teachers in identifying the following steps and taking actions that lead to measurable outcomes. The last but likely most crucial step in the coaching process is to focus on the goals set, allow the coachee to take action, and prioritize time for follow-through. The administrator must progress-monitor success toward those goals and hold the teacher accountable to their objectives.

Benefits of the Coaching Cycle

Armed with these abilities, you will have the necessary skills and confidence to lead your teachers toward continuous improvement and growth. You will enlist these skills through all parts of the coaching cycle: preconference, observation, and post-conference. They will become more empowered and view themselves as successful educators in their classrooms. You will minimize staff turnover and improve campus morale. You will create experts on your campus and foster a culture of growth and collaboration.

Improved morale, improved student performance, culture of collaboration and support, empowered teachers, reduced staff turnowver, growth mindset for all!
Coaching Cycles: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Click here to make your own copy of our FREE Coaching Cycle Template. The template will guide you and your teachers through all the high-impact competencies of an effective coaching process and make the most of your time together. 

Natalie is an Educator Evaluation and Leadership Administrative Specialist at ESC Region 13.

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