Coaching Success Strategies in Education

wpid-2014-09-20-11.30.22.png.pngIn the immortal words of John “Hannibal” Smith, I love it when a plan comes together! This has been a great week of professional development, dialogue, and discovery for the teachers I serve. The Instructional Technology department decided to “flip” our PD sessions this year. So teachers are being exposed to our presentations early in Schoology. Lot’s of them came to the sessions already familiar with the content and were reeling with ideas.

What makes IT coaching even more fulfilling is when teachers implement tools and practices immediately, and reveal that they get immediate results from students. I’ve seen two teachers this week, transform their pedagogical practices from lecture/copy notes to flipped lessons/facilitate creativity. The looks on their faces are like light bulbs shining brightly!

What’s the key element that makes this happen? A two-sided mindset called coachability. Some teachers have already heard this story, however, it’s worth an encore.

I learned the importance of coachability when I was a senior on my high school basketball team. During our prior campaign, I led the team in scoring and rebounds. I was the team MVP, and the team captain. We had a different coach than the year before, and we were rebuilding. The season ended with us near the bottom of the conference with a 6-18 record. Still, I thought very highly of my 18 ppg average, and I went home that summer vowing to work hard on my ball handling to compliment my scoring ability.

The next season, my coach moved me to the point guard position and charged me to make my teammates better. In the process, I thought any criticisms he had should be directed to them. After all, I was already good, or so I thought. One day, he pulled me aside and said, “I need to see you in I’m office immediately after practice.”

Once there, he said, “Sharpe, I’m considering benching you Friday night.” Wait. I sat there like a deer caught in the headlights. How could he be saying this to me?

“What? But… Why?” I braced myself, halfway knowing the answer.

“Because every time I say something to you, you’ve got two things to say back… ‘I know coach… I got it coach’ but you don’t. It’s like you’re becoming uncoachable. There’s only one superstar on this team, and that’s me! If you cannot listen to me, then you cannot lead, and if that’s the case, you’ll need to coach your own team.”

To this day, that was the most brutal truth anyone has ever served me.

“Coach, I… I’m sorry. I don’t want to be that way. Please don’t bench me. I’m gonna prove to you that I AM coachable, and I am this team’s leader.”

From there, I sacrificed my 18 point average for 12, and an increase in assists. We went on to win the conference championship and made it to the sectional finals, which to my knowledge, is further than any other girls’ basketball team in school history.

What does this have to do with instructional technology? EVERYTHING. In order to grow into leadership, you must learn how to follow and assist. If you already have a good grasp on the tools and models being presented, ask your coach if you may assist. Volunteer to help other teachers develop into the guru you already are. Don’t expect your coach to pull you in automatically or by some psychic vision. That’s where relationship-building comes into play. Growing a school within a coaching system takes all kinds of aptitudes, working together.

Like my coach, as I was when I coached, I like to think of my “players” as a part of a network. Everyone has strengths. I’ve got to play them to their strengths.

So I’ll be looking for high-flyers to help others along. I’ll be giving praise and incentives to those who develop their skills and to those who take others under their wings in the process. Our district adopted a slogan this fall: “It takes a whole village.” Indeed, it does.


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