I presented at the Urban Collaborative's Spring Meeting in San Diego, CA www.urbancollaborative.org today—my presentation will be posted on the coaching website in the near future www.instructionalcoach.org. What I found interesting was that during the post-presentation discussion, there were several people with good questions about how coaches are evaluated, and how the role of the coach is distinct from the role of an administrator.
My belief is that coaches are successful only if they work in partnership with teachers. They and their collaborating teachers need a relationship that is based on trust, and a teacher who is going to do the heavy lifting of reflecting on their teaching practices needs to have the freedom to say what they think with their coach. When people talk to their bosses, to the people that supervise, evaluate and promote them, they often do not speak with that kind of candor. Coaches are most effective when they are not administrators, in my opinion, and based on the questions I heard today at the conference, I sense that a lot of coaches are being pressured to take on administrative roles—which makes it very difficult for them to be effective coaches.
Well I’m not the only one thinking this way. In his book on executive and other forms of coaching, Coaching: Evoking excellence in others, (1999), James Flaherty makes the same point, though more eloquently, stating: “Relationship is the background for all coaching efforts. The relationship must be one in which there is mutual respect, trust, and mutual freedom of expression (p.10).”
Another author makes the same point in Marshall Goldsmiths’ Coaching for Leadership (2000): “The coaching relationship does not seek control; instead it regards the need to surrender to the process of learning as paramount. This requires the creation of rapport or kinship by removing the mask of managerial supremacy (p.134).”
If you’re a coach right now, my guess is that this all makes sense. If you’re new to this kind of professional learning, well this may be a bit tough to accept at first.