Engage School Administrators to Actively Support Coaching - Digital Promise

Engage School Administrators to Actively Support Coaching

I know principals have a lot on their plates, but please be involved as much as possible in the program. When you're meeting with your coach, you're meeting with your coach. Try your best to make sure that time is protected for the two of you. If principals are excited and really into it, I think it helps tremendously how the program will go for the rest of the year,...and keeping that excitement going throughout the year is really important.
DLP Coach

A successful coaching program is impossible without strong support from school administrators. According to data from the Dynamic Learning Project pilot (DLP)1, when school administrators remain involved in the coaching program throughout the year, teachers feel less stressed about their challenges, feel better about their coaches’ coaching skills, and show more improvement in their teaching practices.

School administrators play a critical role in the success of coaching programs in their building mainly by supporting coach-teacher collaboration. Learn how school administrators can nurture coach-teacher collaboration in different ways.

School administrators can also support the success of coaching programs by closely collaborating with their coach. Coaches need frequent, dedicated time with their school administrator to seek constructive feedback. These meetings also help coaches keep their practice aligned with school and district goals. Moreover, one of the primary roles of school administrators is to guide and model professional development for their staff. Regular coach-administrator meetings help administrators gain valuable insights on how to effectively play this role.

Tips for success:

  • When decision-makers select a research-backed coaching model, they should identify ways school administrators should be involved. For example, in the Dynamic Learning Project pilot, school administrators participated in in-person training side-by-side with their coaches to better understand how they could support the program.
  • Before the school year begins, school administrators and coaches can carve out structured time for relationship building, collaborative goal-setting, and deciding how to adapt the coaching model they are using to work best in their specific school context. This allows them to begin the year with a shared understanding of their roles and upcoming action items.
  • Throughout the school year, school administrators and coaches can maintain this momentum by consistently meeting to discuss what is working well, what challenges the coach is facing, and general trends in teacher progress. Being transparent with teachers about the limits of what is shared in these meetings supports a non-evaluative approach to coaching.
  • While remaining actively involved, school administrators should also trust coaches to implement the coaching program with creativity and innovation. Our research suggests that when coaches are trusted to make decisions around coaching, they feel more confident in their skills, can more easily build and develop necessary rapport with teachers, and are better able to personalize the type of support that they provide. Regular meetings between the coach and the school administrator are an opportunity for the administrator to celebrate when a coach has taken ownership of a coaching decision and seen a positive impact as a result. Alternatively, when a coach has not had success with a coaching decision, the school administrator can serve as a thought partner to brainstorm new approaches.
1The Dynamic Learning Project pilot (DLP) refers to the coaching program and research study that took place from 2017-20.
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