Coaching – Anyone Else Beginning to Sweat?

Coaching – the word itself flips me into the world of a beginning teacher when I was being evaluated.  My palms get sweaty, my voice cracks and I have a strong reflex to create a four page lesson plan complete with guided questions, full outcomes directly from the Curriculum guide and a plan to circulate, circulate, circulate!  I pull my Madeline Hunter Planning Guide out and get right to work.   For whatever reason, I connect the term coaching with the evaluations that I had as a beginning teacher way back in the day.  Back when a bad evaluation could mean a lack of contract, further “in-depth” evaluations or a simple “thanks for coming out but we don”t have anything for you next year” talk.  I’m wrong in looking at it that way, I know I am.  Goodness knows I’ve read enough about it and I’m even part of the planning team to bring in a strong coaching model to our district.  Not only that but I support the coaching movement in Alberta, I think it will bring about great changes to the way we look at our practice.

Its all in the term to me.  Coaching to me implies that a person with more experience and a stronger sense of “the game” assists a weaker player, one with flaws that need tuning up.  Maybe it’s just me, but that’s the way I grew up viewing coaches.  I prefer to think that in a “coaching” relationship in schools, both teachers benefit from the skill set of the other.  I’ve heard it said from mentor teachers a million times before, “I think I learned more than my student teacher ever did.”

I guess I prefer the term “learning partner” to be honest with you.  It implies that both the parties involved are together in their journey, that a combined look at a lesson or general practice will provide insight for both teachers and they will come up with a lesson better than anything they could of come up with on their own – synergy!  So, as we move towards allowing teachers to open up their doors and be collaborative, let’s keep in mind that everyone’s learning and that everyone wins as long as we build our knowledge and practice up together.  A colleague of mine once shared an African Proverb with me

If you want to go fast, go alone.

If you want to go far, go together.

Let’s create schools for the long run – let’s go far . . . together.

And as for the term “coaching”, I guess I just have to put on my big boy pants and get used to it.

Keep growing,


Interesting Reads

Mindsets - Carol Dweck
Teaching Boys who struggle in School - Kathleen Palmer Cleveland
Drive - Daniel Pink
Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell



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  1. Heidi Dempsey

    It seems that others share your discomfort with this word! Jim Knight uses the term, “instructional collaborator” in place of “coach.”

  2. Dave Sheehan

    A colleague in the Camrose area has the job description of a Learning Coach but has the title “Learning Facilitator”. He likes it and I do too. It sums up what he does – he facilitates the learning of staff and students.

  3. Jocelyn Lamothe

    I see the context and process becoming more clearly defined, and the skill set needed is also being built more intentionally, but I also think we’ve been coaches…and we’ve been coached… here and there…all along. A number of colleagues over the years come to mind that were informal coaches (without a label or title). One of the things I most appreciate is that it’s about capacity building within a community.

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