New Coaches: Technical Tips For Getting Started
If you are about to begin a role as a coach working with educators, then congratulations and welcome to this exciting world of adult learning! This first year may bring challenges--that's to be expected when you're starting something new, but with some reading, learning, and practice, you may be able to avoid some big pitfalls.
I've written a lot about the adaptive aspects of coaching. Being an effective coach has a great deal to do with who you are and how you show up in this work. Knowing yourself is critical (Here's a fun place to start in that exploration). Being curious and compassionate is essential.
In addition to knowing who you are and knowing your purpose, you also need to know what coaching is and how your school or district defines it. That's sometimes much harder than it should be as there are varied definitions and a lack of agreement about what it is. There's also a difference between taking up a coaching role in a place that has long had coaching, and being the first coach that a school has ever had. There are challenges and advantages in each scenario, but regardless of the situation--you need some kind of definition from which to work. At least to start with. Here's more on this topic.
There are also technical and organizational skills related to being an effective coach. You'll need to set up a number of systems to respond to these questions:
- How will your clients make appointments with you?
- How do you want your coachees to communicate with you? Via email, text message, or in person? For example, if they need to cancel an appointment, how do you want to get that information?
- How will you keep track of notes and your client's growth? In a notebook? In a digital doc? How will these be organized?
- What kind of scheduling tools or calendars do you want to use? Which of those (if any) do you want to make public so that other coaches, teachers or your supervisors can see where you are and what you're doing?
- What kinds of tools, resources or documents will you always carry with you? Does your school or district have frameworks for teaching that you might need to regularly reference? These are some of my favorites that I always carry with me (The Gaps, Spheres, Core Emotions).
- Related to your own calendar and schedule: When will you plan for and reflect on coaching conversations? Make sure you schedule this time for yourself and don't just leave it to when everything else is done. It's critical that you build in your reflection and learning time. Here's a resource on planning for coaching conversations.
- How often will you meet with your school principal, or other partners? Will those meetings be recurring, or as needed? How will you communicate with those partners?
Setting up some of these technical structures for coaching will help you be organized. It's likely that coaching is only one part of your job--many coaches also facilitate teams, teach a class or two, and develop curriculum. Staying on top of all the little things that come up related to coaching will also help you build trust with your coachees--as they see that you're organized and that they can depend on you, their confidence in your skill set with strengthen.
Here are some other resources for new coaches: