I am frequently asked by administrators and external evaluators what I think are the most important qualities of an effective instructional coach. That’s a loaded question! Many people believe that effective coaching means that coaches can improve student scores and improve school wide data quickly and without challenges. Some people believe that effective coaching means that every teacher on that staff implements whatever the coach suggests as in “show me and I’ll do it.” Those that understand that instructional coaching is an ongoing teacher professional development/ professional learning support system and a reflective practice believe that coaches are on the side of helping teachers implement effective instructional practices in a non-evaluative, risk-free environment. These are the “enlightened” ones!
Coaches are not magicians; they have no magic wands; and they can’t spread any pixie dust throughout their building immediately resulting in higher student scores and better school profiles. If that were only the case! But what they can do is provide opportunities for teachers and administrators to plan, learn, review, revise, and work together to influence student learning and build teacher capacity.
So, here’s my top ten list:
1. Able to build strong trusting relationships
2. Exhibits deep content knowledge
3. Is a good listener
4. Committed to life-long learning
5. Models collaborative practices and collective problem solving
6. Knows adult learning theory and application in a coaching situation
7. Maintains a positive attitude towards all individuals
8. Identifies current trends in education and provides appropriate resources to support those trends
9. Skilled in questioning techniques to reinforce metacognitive reflection
10. Understands the data collection process (collection, analysis, and use of data)
What’s on your list??