Sunday, April 22, 2018

6 Tasks Instructional Coaches Spend Time On... that aren't coaching

Think about your day. Where did you spend most of your time? Modeling lessons, working with kids, or planning with teachers? Maybe, but maybe not.
You know that little line in your contract? The one that says, "other duties as assigned?" Sometimes that little line can feel like it grows and grows until it takes up your whole job. And all the original duties you thought you were going to do as an instructional coach can get put on the back burner.

This is not meant to be complain-y. All of these jobs need to be done on a campus, and, when you're a coach, you're usually part of the campus leadership team. And that means that, if it needs to be done, who's gonna do it? Probably you.

But it can be helpful to realize where the time goes, and to think twice about saying "yes" to responsibilities that may not serve your purpose as a coach. (If you have the option of saying "no" that is.)

So what are instructional coaches spending their time on? Here are five ways coaches spend their time (that aren't coaching), in order from most favorite to least favorite.

Monitoring school events

Sometimes it's fun to attend the school pep rally, or pop in to see the magician who's there for second grade. But when you're scheduled for event after event, your week can fill up pretty fast. 

Coaches are usually on the short list to supervise or monitor school events because they don't have a class. It makes sense. But it's hard to support teachers when you're shushing kids in the auditorium, trying to keep them from asking the border patrol officer how much money she makes and whether she's used her gun before.

Disaggregating Data

Oh my gosh. If I could tally up the number of hours I spent printing, multiplying, adding, scoring, finding percentages, marking standards, breaking it up, putting it together, finding patterns, color-coding... 
Well, I'd probably want to throw up if I saw how many hours it actually was, so maybe it's best that I don't.

Looking at data is, of course, important. I'm not going to say it should never be done. But the massive amounts of time coaches spend on data disaggregation is pretty crazy. Want to do something nice for a coach? Buy them some colored highlighters. They'll use them. I promise.

If you'll notice, though, data is still before "duty" on my list. Which tells you how I feel about duty.

Again, because coaches don't have their own class, they end up doing a lot of duty. This might be lunch duty, after-school duty, morning duty, hall duty, or any other place that kids can get into trouble. 
It might not seem like a big deal to spend 20 minutes monitoring lunch every day, but if that's right in the middle of the second grade reading block, guess who's probably not getting reading support. 


I've sat in approximately 8,349 meetings. 

About half of those meetings were relevant to me. The other half? Well, I don't know if they were relevant to anyone. 
This was my favorite: We're going to train you in using this specific approach. What? We trained you in it already? Well, come anyway. It's good to have a refresher.

District/State/Federal accountability

There is so much stuff that has to be done for accountability purposes. This might be sending out parent letters, filling out evaluations and monitoring forms for goals, writing the goals in the first place, checking and double-checking codes on rosters, sorting documents for teachers, and other CYA-type work. 

There's EOY and MOY and BOY, but for some reason, there's never BYOB, which would undoubtedly improve the process.

Some of it might be useful and help you think about your focus and purpose at school, but most of it is really just dotting 'i's and crossing 't's for somebody else's benefit. (And that "somebody" isn't the kids.)

Testing, testing, testing

Ugh. The T-word. Nobody likes it. Sitting in a bare, hot room, testing kids who you didn't get to teach is no fun. Small group test administration is the bane of my existence. I can feel my eyes rolling back in my head as I type. Can anybody stand it? Nope.

You count your steps around the room. Then you count the tiles on the floor and ceiling. Then you wonder what number the kids are on. Then you look around the room and think about how you'll arrange it differently next year. Then you think, "One year from today, I'm going to be administering this awful test." Then you choke back tears.

Does this sound familiar? Where does your time go?

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  1. Your blog is great. I read a lot of interesting things from it. Thank you very much for sharing. Hope you will update more news in the future.
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  2. That is really good information you provide.
    i like more no. 3 and no. 5.....