We are currently in the middle of a record-breaking snowstorm in Erie, Pennsylvania. While we have had many snowstorms before, driving in the snow is always an adventure. On a recent drive, I thought of some connections to the journey an instructional coach takes with a teacher. Five lessons learned…
- Drive for a purpose.
When you drive in a severe snowstorm you have to know your destination and the specific directions for your travel. In you instructional coaching journey, you also need to know your goal. You also must know your specific, measureable steps along the way. In either scenario, your success is too important to wander.
- Have the right equipment.
Your chances of success on your journey are greatly enhanced by having all wheel drive, good tires, windshield wipers, and warm winter gear (of course). Likewise, your instructional coaching success depends on strong curriculum, teaching strategies, formative and summative assessment, and student engagement.
- Slow down.
Without fail, many drivers drive too fast when winter weather hits. This leads to cars ending up in all sorts of places other than their destination. The advice to these drivers as well as instructional coaches is to slow down. Small changes and successes over time will lead to change that sticks.
- Don’t “over-correct.”
When you drive in the snow, no matter how experience you are, you will slide. The key is to not panic, but to make a small adjustment and drive through it. As you work with teachers, resist the temptation to change everything after every misstep. Instructional coaching is a delicate, learning process. When you slide off course, make a minor correction and drive through it.
- Learn from your mistakes.
I was reminded of this lesson just a few nights ago when, despite traveling up my in-laws driveway hundreds of times over the past twenty years, I forgot to stay on the path side and slid off into the snowbank. Not only was I embarrassed, but ended up ruining a night out with my wife and our friends. This leads me to my final piece of advice to instructional coaches. We need to learn from our mistakes. We are not perfect. It’s okay to not know the answer, to mess up, to apologize and move forward.
Move forward, my friends, move forward.