While getting trained by a coach is expected in the singing and baseball worlds, there's less talk about career coaches for teachers and other educated professionals. But having a career coach in the classroom can be a valuable learning experience. I was lucky enough to have a career coach as a mentor, and there are a handful of reasons why I would recommend this growth opportunity to other teachers.
1. They Offer a Fresh Set of Eyes
I took part in a program for motivating students to keep their interest in science high and hopefully follow a science career path. To improve my strategies, I decided to work with a career coach because they offer strategies to better engage students, tighten up lesson plans, and check in on student involvement.
My coach, Victoria, taught me a lot. She helped me revise experiments to make sure they aligned with the goals of the curriculum, and I grew to trust Victoria as she validated my ideas and helped me expand them. Once, I wanted her input for a new lesson, so I showed her a short video of my students brainstorming ideas. She showed a lot of enthusiasm for my lesson, which was obviously a boost of my confidence, and she gave me tips to help my students focus and streamline their procedures for their experiments.
Further reading: Mentors for Teachers
2. Teachers Thrive with Support
As teachers, we already know we're stronger when we have support. We demonstrate it daily in the ways we collaborate with each other—bouncing ideas around, offering up much-needed tech and computer assistance, and sharing lab supplies. This shows we care about growing as professionals, so why should enlisting the help of a career coach be perceived any differently?
I called on an experienced colleague for an administrator's perspective on working with coaches, and the issue of trust arose: "Building a relationship and trust are key to a successful coaching experience," said Debra Negrete, a retired teacher, mentor, coach, and principal.
3. The Benefits Outweigh Time Lost
Some school districts have dealt with concerns about the additional workload created by bringing in career coaches for teachers. My coach came to my classroom three times a month. During my lessons, she watched and asked students questions. Afterward, during my prep period, we reflected on the lesson and had an open discussion. It did take a good chunk of my planning time, but I quickly found that the benefits outweighed the time lost. For instance, Victoria helped me implement formative assessments into the beginning of each unit. We spent a good amount of time working together on this, but the insight into students' misconceptions has helped me adjust my curriculum accordingly, leading to a better experience in the classroom for all.
Further reading: Learning from a Veteran Teacher
If you're interested in learning new strategies or making shifts in your approach to help your students be more successful, consider working with a career coach. I've found that my skills as an educator continue to grow because of my time with a coach, and I'm returning the favor by coaching new teachers myself. I highly recommend this developmental method!