Establish trusting and respectful coaching relationships that encourage educators to explore new instructional strategies.
In August of 2021, the post “Put me in, Coach:” A Brief Look at Best Practices for Instructional Coaching in Higher Education explored strategies for instructional coaches with Apple TV’s fictional athletic coach Ted Lasso as a source of inspiration. In the show, some of the things that make Ted Lasso such an effective coach (and lovable character) are his:
- Commitment to having a short memory for failure while simultaneously building self-efficacy and resilience in his players
- Openness to modeling vulnerability, curiosity, and personal growth
- Ability to empower other leaders around him
- Varied approaches to coaching different individuals on the team depending on their individual needs, personalities, and backgrounds.
These same traits find much overlap with empirical tips for instructional coaches provided by Anderson and Wallin (2018; see full reference in blog post). The first two tips on their list include:
- Build Relationships: Nothing meaningful can be accomplished without trust and respect between the coach and the coachee. This takes time. Establishing trust may require that coaches acknowledge where their own shortcomings in skills/experience are in order to better listen to and learn from those whom they are coaching.
- Remain Connected to Students: Stay active, connected, and relevant. In other words, “practice what you preach.” Trust and respect are harder to establish with instructors when there is a disconnect between the coach and what’s going on in classrooms. If possible, continue teaching in some capacity while in a coaching position.
Further evidence of meeting 4.3a through applied learning can be found in a professional development workshop I created to help higher education instructors familiarize themselves with the tenants and implementation of resilient pedagogy (RP). The presentation/workshop on the theory and practice of RP gives educators a chance to explore new instructional strategies so that they are better prepared to meet the fluctuating needs of their individual students–especially in moments of crisis–in the future.
Additionally, in my peer-coaching project, establishing trust and respect was an important first step with my coachee. It was helpful that my own background and expertise aligned so well with the classroom context where my coachee was situated. She was confident that I understood the nuances of a 6th grade ELA classroom before I ever made any suggestions for changes to her lesson plans.