Assigning a coach to work across multiple campuses in a district can foster district-wide culture change. For example, when a coach has a solid understanding of the context of a particular group of teachers across the district (e.g., kindergarten teachers, math teachers), focusing coaching on that group can be an effective way to scale coaching across multiple campuses and build a culture of collaboration across the district. Coaching across multiple schools in a district can also provide a bird’s eye view of classroom practices, which can support vertical alignment and district-wide implementation of curricula, strategies, and tools.
However, when coaches are not embedded at a single school site, managing and coordinating schedules becomes challenging, and it is harder to develop and maintain strong, trusting relationships with teachers and school-level administrators. Additionally, the amount of time the coach can spend one-on-one with teachers can become limited, which can reduce the reach and impact of coaching. In situations where it is necessary for a coach to split their time across multiple schools, districts should be strategic in mitigating these challenges.
Dynamic Learning Project coaches used a variety of approaches to remain visible to teachers and build relationships while coaching across multiple campuses. One successful DLP coach hosted regular technology breakfasts at campuses to build rapport and expose teachers to the types of support she could provide. Another coach coordinated with administrators at each building to deliver school-level professional development in monthly faculty meetings at each of the four buildings where she coached. A third coach made an effort to present useful tips to a department of teachers each time she visited a campus, and to offer small types of support that build rapport, such as freeing up a teacher from their lunch duty.
Technology also facilitated connections for coaches with teachers who are spread across multiple school sites. For instance, one coach shared access to a Google Classroom with teachers across her three campuses, inviting them to join to receive tips and ask questions on strategies and tools. Although signing up was completely optional, she found that 65 percent of teachers chose to join. “That showed me there was a lot of curiosity and a lot of people interested in what was happening,” she said. This allowed the coach to build a critical mass of teachers who were open to hearing new ideas and served as an entryway to recruit them to work one-on-one in coaching cycles.