Having been an instructional coach in some capacity for the past 14 years, I can testify to some awkward conversations with others when trying to explain exactly what I do as an instructional coach.
“You mean you don’t have your own classroom?”
“What sport is it that you coach?”
“Oh, so you only work with those teachers?”
I find that having a position with a wide range of opportunities will always elicit some confusion as to the role I play in today’s educational setting. It’s a good problem to have, actually. However, it’s important to be clear about my role with others.
Recently, I read an article written by Christy Rush-Levine on the importance of “pushing pause” as a teacher on Choice Literacy. In one of her last lines, Christy writes:
“Sometimes, the hardest thing in teaching is allowing ourselves to pause.”
After reading that line, it made realize what a great illustration this is of an instructional coach. As a coach, we oftentimes have to be the “pause” for teachers. We work beside them in a variety of capacities: observing, co-teaching, planning, and reflecting to name a few. Within these moments, we often help teachers pause to think, to redirect, to re-plan, to evaluate, to develop a plan, and sometimes make a decision to go in a completely different direction.
A couple of weeks ago, I met with a wonderful teacher who had asked to meet to discuss how her year was going. Once the conversation began, I quickly noticed how anxious and stressed the young teacher was. Tears began filling her eyes as she described the many ways she felt as if she had fallen short of her goals for her students. I listened and affirmed her feelings. And then, I helped her push pause. We talked about some different things she could remove from her plate. We discussed the need for her own self-care and I encouraged and reminded her of the many ways that she is more than enough for her students. Before leaving, I recommended that we meet monthly to check in and see how things were going. A monthly meeting to simply pause and reflect and honor her work as a teacher.
Today, more than ever, we need to remind ourselves of the importance of that pause. As coaches, we should feel energized and empowered to help others, teachers and administrators, pause as well. It is, in my opinion, one of the most rewarding aspects of being an instructional coach. After all, the best part of pushing pause is pushing play to see how the journey continues, right?
Guest Writer: KRISTEN HORRELL is an instructional coach with the Community Schools of Frankfort.