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Changing Roles as an Instructional Coach with Megan Williams Martin, Ep. 76 Buzzing with Ms. B: The Coaching Podcast

Changing roles as an instructional coach can be daunting, especially if you're working in grades or subjects you haven’t taught before. On this episode of The Coaching Podcast, I’m joined by Megan Williams Martin. She shares how she transitioned from being a reading specialist to a secondary instructional coach. Listen to learn how to be prepared for your new role and what to do at the beginning of the year to build trust with teachers.

Many coaches shift from one grade level to another or from one content area to another this time of year. They may start at a new school or district and that can be a difficult change to make.

On this episode of The Coaching Podcast, my guest is Megan Williams Martin. She’s an instructional coach that recently moved from elementary school to middle school.

We talk about what the change was like for her and some things she did to connect with the teaching team. She shares how she built relationships and applied what she already knew to her new campus.

Megan and I discuss ideas for bridging your knowledge from one grade level range or content area to another. We also talk about the similarities and differences between primary and secondary school.

This episode is especially helpful if you’ve shifted roles. Even if you haven’t, I think you’re going to walk away with some valuable tips for the work that you’re doing on your campus.

Changing Roles as an Instructional Coach

Megan admits that she was nervous when she decided to switch schools and grade levels. It was a big transition.

On the episode, Megan shares what she did to make the move a little bit easier. She mentions multiple times that she arrived at the school as a willing learner and open to suggestions. She also made it clear that she was passionate about educating teachers and kids.

In the beginning, she listened and learned about the team and the school. She did lots of research too. When the time was right, she offered suggestions that showed her value. She also made herself available to the staff as a sounding board.

Megan was honest with the team that she didn’t know everything. She explains in the episode that it’s OK not to know everything. The important thing is that you know how to do research and know who to ask to find the answers.

Another thing she did was find her people quickly. In the episode, she talks about how coaching is a difficult job to do alone and how to find support to make the job more joyful.

From Primary to Secondary School

We chat about how Megan’s work as a teacher and reading specialist in elementary school prepared her to become a middle school instructional coach.

She was keenly aware that going from primary to secondary school would pose a challenge in terms of credibility and tried her best to be prepared for it. The middle school teachers would be the experts in the content, but she was confident that she had a toolbox of strategies to share.

Instructional coaches often feel like they are the experts and need to know everything. But nobody knows it all.

Megan was honest with the staff that she did not have experience with middle school students. She explained to the teachers that what she did have was some great practices to help support teachers and meet the students’ needs.

She was intentional about how and when she offered new ideas. She didn’t dump out all her strategies at once, but rather let it occur naturally.

Megan is a lifelong learner and soaks up everything. She said it was this openness to learning and her ability to find answers that led to success on her new campus.

To build relationships with teachers, she made sure to show her personality and got to know the teachers. She let them know that she was not there to change everything and that built trust.

One of the things she said helped the most was going into classrooms and offering support from the start of the year. She started with those teachers that were willing. In time other teachers recognized that she wanted to help and had good ideas.

Thinking about Changing Roles as an Instructional Coach?

Her final piece of advice is to try new grades and subjects. She never thought she would leave elementary. Now she says that secondary school is home for her.

I agree that coaches should be willing to try new things. If nothing else, you’ll learn a lot about what you like, what you don’t like, and the way things work in different places. At best, maybe you’ll love it.

If you want to hear all about Megan’s transition from elementary to middle school, be sure to check out the entire episode. She shares practical tips that can help you get ready for any new coaching role.

Ready to listen? You can listen below with the media player, or search for Buzzing with MS. B: The Coaching Podcast anywhere you listen to podcasts!

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Thank you for listening to Buzzing with Ms. B: the Coaching Podcast. Want more coaching ideas?

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Podcast produced by Fernie Ceniceros

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