Guest Post: Vulnerability: An Instructional Coach’s Key to Growing Outside Her Comfort Zone and Leading Teachers to Do the Same

Are you immediately able to picture the person on your staff that continually models Screen Shot 2018-01-23 at 8.21.16 PMbeing a learner? Hopefully you are able to visualize several faces. The more individuals in your building who are leading the learning necessary for teacher growth, the better.  But growth will not take place without taking some risks.

Naturally, people avoid risk because it represents uncertainty. So people generally remain in their comfort zone. Risk by its very nature makes us vulnerable. Without those faces you previously imagined who take risks by modeling vulnerability through identifying and sharing their own strengths and weaknesses, growth will not take place. The Instructional Coach plays a critical role guiding and supporting staff through risk and reward by being the risk-taker-in-chief .

The Instructional Coach has a defining role in leading the charge for creating a risk-taking culture. When trying to define the role of an Instructional Coach, one could describe an Instructional Coach as,

a teacher’s biggest support system.

But being part of that support system means taking risks in front of other teachers and challenging and inspiring your teachers to do the same. By continually modeling what it means to be vulnerable, an Instructional Coach can slowly help move teachers from literally and figuratively closing their doors to welcoming other teachers into their classrooms. There are actionable steps that an Instructional Coach can use to exhibit leadership through vulnerability.

Five ways that Instructional Coaches can cultivate a school culture that encourages taking risks:

  1. Video record yourself teaching and share it with your teachers.

Being reflective in our teaching practice is an essential way of creating a culture that values risk-taking. There are few things more uncomfortable than watching yourself on video. Yet, we and our colleagues have so much to learn from really observing ourselves in action. Video reflection is a powerful way to stimulate conversation about reflective practice.

2. Ask teachers to come and watch you teach.

If we desire collaborative practices where teachers learn from one another, we must be willing to constantly require it of ourselves. If you are modeling in a classroom, invite others teachers to come watch. Ask for feedback on a particular area and thank them for coming and learning alongside you.

3. Encourage the #observeme movement.

Researching and discussing the #observeme movement with staff can be greatly beneficial. Seldom will a teacher observe another teacher without walking away with a great idea that can then be discussed and shared with the larger community of practice. When we are willing to observe one another, it creates a sense of school community as well as builds a community of practice.

4. Talk openly about your successes and failures.

While sharing successes around the building is great, it is just as important to model that you fail at times as well. Then follow up by discussing what you learned from that failure and the path you have mapped forward toward your goal.

5. Say your goals out loud.

Verbalizing your goals is the first step to making them happen. You will now be held accountable by people who heard you express those goals. Most importantly, they will see you modeling vulnerability.

An Instructional Coach has the unique role of helping others become their best selves while ensuring their long term success. Start modeling risk-taking through vulnerability today!

About our Guest Author: Tonya Moody is a first year Instructional Coach in Westfield Washington School District in central Indiana and has over ten years of teaching experience. This is the first year for Instructional Coaching in Westfield Washington Schools and building a strong Instructional Coaching team that supports teachers is her number one priority. Prior to coaching, she taught Kindergarten, Second grade, and was a Reading Specialist and Literacy Coach. She has a passion for encouraging her colleagues and collaborating with fellow educators.  Tonya loves growing her PLN on Twitter (@MrsMoodyIC) and would love to connect with you!

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