collaboration, consulting

Beginning a new role as an instructional coach can be incredibly exciting and also anxiety-provoking. As you start building relationships and learning the lay of the land at your new school, keep these tips in mind to set yourself up for success in your first 30 days.

1. Schedule introductory 1:1 meetings with all teachers and administrators

Don’t wait for people to come to you – be proactive in scheduling intro meetings with everyone you will be working with. Leave these as open, informal conversations rather than plunging into coaching cycles right away. Prepare open-ended questions to better understand people’s style, priorities and challenges. For example:

  • What do you enjoy most about teaching at this school?
  • If you could change one thing about how this school operates, what would it be?
  • What student outcomes are top of mind for you this year?
  • How do you usually like to receive feedback and support with your teaching?

Take notes and start identifying common themes you hear. Above all, focus on listening rather than talking about your own background. Build rapport and trust.

2. Observe classrooms with a learning lens

Observe at least 2-3 of the classrooms you will be coaching over the next few months. Maintain a learning stance – don’t go in with a coach/evaluator mindset yet. Ask for permission to come into their classroom and ask when would be a good time. Look for positive moments to point out to teachers later. Ask clarifying questions rather than making suggestions.

After observing, follow up with simple appreciation such as “Thank you for letting me observe. I noticed how welcoming your classroom culture felt.” Praise small positives before diving into coaching cycles.

3. Attend team meetings

Sit in on grade level team meetings and department meetings your first few weeks. Introduce yourself briefly at the start but otherwise remain an active listener. Note the team dynamics, challenges that arise in the discussion, and topics that energize the team. Follow up with team leaders after meetings to offer your support on anything discussed.

4. Clarify expectations with administrators

Have an in-depth discussion with your direct supervisor and principal to understand their goals for your role. Ask questions such as:

  • What are your top priorities and expectations for me in my first 3 months?
  • How will we define success for my role at the end of this school year?
  • How can I best support your vision and initiatives at our school?

Make sure you are crystal clear on what they want you focused on, any coaching mandates, and how they perceive your role.

5. Map out a 30/60/90 day plan

Given the context you have now gathered, draft a high-level plan for your first 30, 60 and 90 days. Outline 2-3 goals or focus areas for each period. For example:

  • First 30 days: Build relationships, observe classrooms, learn school initiatives
  • 60 days: Start coaching cycles, provide PD on formative assessment
  • 90 days: Support new curriculum rollout, observe improvement in coaching focus areas

Get input from your administrators on your plan to confirm alignment. Use this to stay strategic amidst competing demands.

The first month on the job will fly by, but staying focused on trust-building and learning sets you up for impact once you transition into active coaching cycles. Be present, be patient and get to know the people first. The rest will follow!

Now that you’ve read about how to set your first 30 days up for success, consider delving deeper with “The Instructional Coach’s Handbook: How to Thrive the First Year.” This isn’t your typical manual filled with neat forms and checklists. In fact, the margins aren’t even perfect all the way through. But what I’m offering you is something far more valuable – a compilation of practical tips and tricks that I desperately wish an experienced coach had shared with me during my first year.

Forget the generic advice like “The best part of the job is working with the teachers. And the worst part? Well, that’s working with the teachers, too.” Instead, brace yourself for a deep dive into the real world of instructional coaching, where building strong teacher relationships, fostering professional growth, and creating impactful educational environments come to life.

This handbook is crafted for new and aspiring instructional coaches who are eager to navigate the complexities of their role effectively. With actionable strategies, real-world insights, and practical tools, it’s designed to guide you through:

  • Establishing your unique coaching identity.
  • Mastering effective communication techniques.
  • Building trust and rapport with teachers.
  • Overcoming the myriad challenges of instructional coaching.
  • Utilizing tools and resources to elevate your coaching practice.

Embark on your coaching journey with the wisdom of experience and the candor of someone who’s been in the trenches. Transform your first year into a thriving success and make a meaningful impact in your educational community.

If you found this overview helpful and are eager to delve deeper into these strategies and tips, “The Instructional Coach’s Handbook: How to Thrive the First Year” is available for purchase now on our Teachers Pay Teachers store. Secure your copy today and start your journey with the best tools at your disposal, ensuring a successful and impactful first year in your new role.

Also check out the Essentials page for some of my Amazon favorites that I used as an Instructional Coach.