When I selected “fearless” as my one word for 2020 back in January, I never knew the implications of how much this word would resonate with where we are in today’s current world. Our instruction has had to be reimagined in ways never thought possible as we have adapted and modified our learning experiences to meet the needs of our learners from a distance. With this distance has come the importance of connection and access, while still moving the learning forward. As an instructional coach, much like my colleagues, I have had to reimagine my role in how to continue to best support our students and staff.
Here are three ways instructional coaches can remain positive and impactful during this time:
1. Focus on Depth Versus Breadth
Our realm of what can be controlled grounds us in our continued influence with teachers, staff, and students. By taking on a depth vs. breadth approach to learning, we are able to prioritize and focus on the most meaningful experiences for both students and staff. As instructional coaches, we need to be mindful of how we are streamlining our current work, actions, and communications. This entails setting healthy boundaries and leading by example. No one can do it all, so by supporting students and colleagues in what they can do gives permission to let some things go and instead, focus on more depth in what can be controlled. How we are choosing to respond in these times will be reflected in the actions of those we serve alongside.
2. Focus on Connection
There are so many aspects of learning that are social for both students and adults. While we are currently unable to connect with others in a physical space, instructional coaches can continue to support the importance of creating the conditions needed for ongoing connection. This impacts the social and emotional well-being of not only our students but for ourselves and colleagues as well. Video provides access to creatively connect with others through a wide range of purposes, methods, and entry points. By being visible through means of video lessons and live virtual experiences, students and staff are able to make the social connections needed to sustain ongoing learning and emotional health. Meaningful learning cannot happen without a meaningful connection. And if you haven’t heard already, in response to school shutdowns, Insight ADVANCE is making their video-coaching platform free for all schools and districts.
3. Focus on Responsiveness
Navigation through these times can feel unpredictable and unsettling for many, especially for our students and those we serve alongside. As instructional coaches, our relationships matter more than ever. Listening deeply to students and staff provides awareness of current individual needs and allows instructional coaches to respond with clarity and support for the whole child and whole adult learner with compassion, grace, and understanding. While we may be supporting some staff with instructional content creation, we may be supporting others with planning, joining them in virtual classrooms, meeting individually with students, or even just checking in to see how you can be of support. Instructional coaches must be ready to think flexibly and responsively in a proactive manner even if coaching has shifted or been reframed.
While there remains much uncertainty in our world, what remains constant is our ability to listen, connect, and respond collectively with optimism and hope. No one knows where this journey will take us, but we have the opportunity to capitalize on this experience by supporting the pursuit of learning and growing in new ways and striving to continue to make a difference and positive impact on those around us. As we all adapt to what learning is in our current reality, let’s not forget to reimagine the possibilities of what learning could be with the time and space to explore and create. Stay fearless, positive, and relentless in being an advocate for students, teachers, and staff as we all continue to navigate these times together.
Educators, how are you adjusting to this new reality?
Feel free to share how you are adjusting and helping to support students and teachers from afar in our comments section.