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Running head: COACHING THE COACH 1 Coaching the Coach: Implications for Coaching the Instructional Coach Susan Simpson Dallas Baptist University
COACHING THE COACH 2 Coaching the Coach Overview and Introduction A coach’s power to influence performance outcomes cannot be underestimated. Author Carol Ann Tomlinson illustrated this importance by examining a diving coach. She described the coaches’keen ability to understand the reciprocal relationships between board positioning, height, and angles on water entry. That knowledge alerts the coach to water entry angles that could cause a diver physical harm. The coach then has the ability to activate pillars of bubbles in the pool to lessen the impact of the landing. The diving coach’s purpose is to not only ensure that the athlete performs at an optimal level, but to weigh risks and intervene when appropriate. Take this scenario and apply it to the educational instructional coach (IC). Just as the diving coach shoulders a heavy burden that carries the potential for serious outcomes, the instructional coach’s reach has the capacity to enhance or degrade the educational experience and trajectory of student and teacher performance. The primary goal of the instructional coach is to improve a teacher’s pedagogy. “Coaching can build will, skill, knowledge, and capacity because it can go where no other professional development has gone before: into the intellect, behavior, practices, beliefs, values, and feelings of educators”(Handover, 2015, p. 12). In addition to building capacity, instructional coaches also provide a safe space for risk and innovation. In other words, they stand in the gap, much as the diving coach, as a safe non-judgmental partner where non-evaluative continuous improvement through learning and reflection are addressed in an atmosphere of trust. With such an enormous responsibility being assigned to ICs, several logical questions arise - How are they developed and evaluated? What systems are in place to ensure that those charged with supporting instructional professionals have the skills necessary to complete their
COACHING THE COACH 3 assignment? Within the Dallas Independent School District, definitive answers to these questions do not exist; because, there does not exist a systemic program to nurture the talents, techniques, and skills of its campus instructional coaches (CICs) –enter the Coach the Coach professional development program. The Dallas Independent School District (DISD) employs 365 campus instructional coaches. As mentioned previously, their major responsibility is to improve classroom instruction and as a result, positively impact the educational achievement of students. Teachers formally apply for the position of instructional coach and are assigned to schools by the district. ICs receive no formal coach-specific training before beginning the role and are expected to commence coaching on the first day of school. “One minute a classroom teacher; the next, a teacher educator”(Hall, P., & Simeral, A., 2008. p. 20).