Coaching advanced teachers

This time I’m sharing a guest post I wrote recently addressing questions asked by instructional coaches about how to approach coaching ‘advanced’ teachers. Instructional coaches are experienced teachers in their own right who have changed focus to facilitate the professional development of other teachers, coaching them 1:1 or in groups as well as in the classroom. Being faced with coaching very experienced teachers can be daunting, especially when an instructional coach is new to the coaching role.

Many readers may not be active coaches in this particular context, but the issues raised concerning confidence in our coaching role and skills are relevant to any coach in any coaching situation. Therefore I hope what follows is useful for you too!

The guest post first appeared on 9 October 2018 on The LaunchPad – the official blog of TeachBoost (a US organisation providing a customisable instructional leadership platform).* You can see the original publication here.

TeachBoost Coach's Toolbox image

Image courtesy Schoolbinder, Inc

Do your confidence levels plummet when you’re faced with coaching a truly awe-inspiring “advanced” teacher? Does it make you begin to question what added value you as an instructional coach can bring? Uncomfortable as it may feel, working with senior, expert, veteran, or more knowledgeable teachers is a great starting point for assessing and reassessing why we’re doing what we’re doing. When we’ve thought it through, we might be equipped to approach coaching advanced teachers in a more constructive, creative way.

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Are we really communicating with our coachees?

Do you think you’re communicating during coaching conversations? The obvious answer would be yes. After all, coaching certainly involves a lot of talking, hopefully the greater proportion of it by the coachee. But does the mere fact that two people are talking to each other (one of whom is a coach) mean we’re actually communicating?

 2 Silhouettes with thought bubblesPut that way, the answer might not be so obvious after all. I’ve written elsewhere about the importance of listening and effective questioning in coaching. There’s no doubt that without high-level listening and questioning skills, a coach isn’t going to get very far. But is there more to communication than even that?

Here I’m going to take a closer look at the attitudes and assumptions that drive the use of those skills. What do we mean by communication? And how can we make our communication better?

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