Leveraging the Principal-Coach Relationship with Angela Kelly Robeck, Ep. 72 Buzzing with Ms. B: The Coaching Podcast
How can an instructional coach help the principal achieve their vision for the school?
On Episode 66, Jacy Ippolito and I discussed creating a coaching culture in schools. One of the things that we talked about was why the principal-coach relationship was essential for reaching school-wide goals.
This was such an important topic that I wanted to go deeper into it. Angela Kelly Robeck joins me on this episode to discuss the different ways a principal-coach relationship can impact a school.
Angela is an author, certified coach for school leaders, and the host of The Empowered Principal Podcast. We talk about how to build a positive partnership between coaches and principals.
The Principal-Coach Relationship
Ideally, the coach-principal relationship should be mutually satisfying. It functions best when both parties work together to implement the vision for the school. This requires having a clearly defined coaching role and staying in your lane.
However, most principals are overwhelmed and do not have time to think about the coach’s role in the building. Coaches can help by sharing ideas and explaining how they would benefit the school leader.
The Importance of Communication
Having a productive relationship requires good communication. The leader needs to convey their vision to the coach and staff.
Once it is communicated, the principal should delegate and allow the coach to do their work in the classroom. They shouldn’t undermine the coach’s job or assign them quasi admin tasks because that can damage the relationship with teachers and lead to resistance.
But what can a coach do when a principal micromanages them or doesn’t listen to their input? Angela recommends stepping back and getting clear with your values and vision. Start working on what you can control and ways to reach your goals.
You get to decide how you present yourself. When you show up positively, people notice and see your commitment. When you do what you believe in, the teachers will notice and feel that.
Principals want to hear wins and challenges. Angela suggests giving the principal three quick wins along with discussing any challenges. She explains how principals don’t want coaches to hide problems. Instead, they want to know about them. They also want to hear ideas that the coach has for how to overcome them. Problems usually get solved quickly when you come up with a solution to try out.
Questions a Coach Should Ask Their Principal to Understand Their Vision
Angela gives us three questions coaches can ask principals to clarify the vision for the school. These questions help coaches understand what the principal is trying to accomplish. It will also help the principal get clear on what they want from the coach.
Here are the questions Angela suggests you ask your administration to better understand them.
1. If there was one legacy that you could leave behind as a school leader, what would that be and why?
2. How do you see my role in supporting this goal? What is the big picture of how a coach fits into this? How do you envision this on a day-to-day basis?
3. What emotions and energy are you aiming for on campus? How do you want classrooms to feel? What is an ideal school culture in your mind?
Leveraging the Principal-Coach Relationship
Relationships, whether personal or professional, require work and aren’t always easy. During the episode, we discuss some ideas for getting through challenges with people.
Angela shares why your relationship with your boss is more about mindset than you think. She explains that the way we feel about and engage with someone comes from how we think about them. When we are struggling with someone, it’s usually because of the thoughts we are having about them.
Our brain creates this story about the person and every time we interact with them, it’s looking for that confirmation. When we become cognizant that it is happening, we gain control of it.
We can create a different story and find positive qualities about that person. This will make it easier whenever we have to interact with them. She gives specific techniques we can use to neutralize these feelings and have more cooperative relationships.
Finding Your Coaching Community
Coaching is not easy work, but there are some things you can do so you don’t get overwhelmed. We talk about suggestions for how to find a safe person to talk to about your work so you’re not keeping it all in. The Coffeeand Coaching Membership is a great place to get support and find like-minded people that you can talk to about your work.
Angela also gives us tips for helping educate principals on the role of a coach. She shares some of the challenges of building the principal-coach role and how to overcome them. We talk about how to build the principal-coach relationship and so much more!
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Check me out at buzzingwithmsb.com and on Instagram @buzzingwithmsb.
Podcast produced by Fernie Ceniceros