Thinking About Goals From a Coach's Perspective
by Terry alley, EdD.
Now that a new school year has begun and you are thinking about how this year is going to be different than the last, have you considered asking someone else to join you in setting goals for your students and in thinking about what you will do to differentiate and to challenge them?
There is probably someone on your campus who has this specific role and could be of value to you. Your science specialist or campus instructional coach has a wealth of experience and instructional expertise they are willing to share.
The instructional coach is in an awkward place. Being somewhere between a classroom teacher with the learning goals for 25 to 125 students as their responsibility and the administration that has the responsibility for the achievement all 500- 1000 students on their campus. The instructional coach is seen as a teacher! without responsibility and without authority. But, if taken from their perspective, that is the best place to be. To be seen as a resource, a mentor, and a coach and not an evaluator. Being a coach is a special role.
When I was training for a marathon several years ago, collecting funds for a great charity motivated me. The donations were pledges, based on my ability to run the distance and complete the challenge. I was running for the Leukemia Society, to raise funds for research, and wanted to meet my goals of completing the 26.2 miles, and also raising $6,600.
I had run 1 OKs and 5Ks before and had the ability to run these 6.2 and 3.1 mile courses in pretty good times} but the idea of increasing that distance 4 fold intimidated me. I ran regularly and longer distances, but never seemed to improve. I was about 4 weeks into the 6-month training I scheduled for myself, when a coach from the Leukemia Society contacted me and offered to be my coach.
At first I thought he had seen me run and knew I needed remediation. But he assured me, that that was not the case. He was clear that if I didn't have potential" he wouldn't want to work with me. He said he understood my goals and they were his too. He even explained that we needed to develop a trusting relationship, because he was going to push me, and prod me, and make me so tired I would want to quit. But he said, if I trusted him, we would both succeed. But, he said, I would need to ask him to coach me and follow his plan/otherwise he would not coach me.
Well, I did ask for his coaching, and he was right. From the first training session on, I was pushed, challenged, had my whole life inspected. Did I get 8 hours of sleep? Did I eat the foods on the list he provided? Did I drink all the water he required? I think I began to resent his pointing out my short comings - until I won my first 1 OK in my age division, then won my first half marathon, and then was able to run 20 miles with out stopping. He was changing my abilities to meet my goal but also providing the advice and resources I lacked! Six months later I ran in the Alaska Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon and finished in 4 hours and 10 minutes. We both met our goals and we were both proud!
You know, your instructional coach has the same goals as you. They can't help you unless you ask for their coaching. Together you can make a plan, work through the challenges, trust each other, and in the end your students' achievement will change and both your goals will be met.
So, as you are thinking about what you will do differently this year to meet the diverse group of learners in your classroom, consider asking your instructional specialist to be your coach. It is accepting the help of others with humility and trust that will get you both to the academic goals you have for your students.
Being a coach is a lonely job, but it is one accepted willingly, because they love students and gave up their classrooms to be able to meet the needs of teachers, who want to change the achievement of their students. Their responsibility is 10 times larger and they are willing to take that challenge on, if you will invite them.
With a focus on implementation of instructional strategies for gains in student achievement and an eye for current educator. research in STEM, Dr. Talley brings a wealth of knowledge to the science community. She is Program Manager for Professional Development with Accelerate Learning with Rice University. Dr. Talley has received numerous awards for her work in science education, including Texas Medical Association Teacher of the Year, Outstanding Texas Science Supervisor and a Cohort 5 member of the West Ed National Science Education Leadership Academy.