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Coaching Call: Getting in the Door with a Defined Role and Purpose with Liz DeVargas Almeida Ep. 80 Buzzing with Ms. B: The Coaching Podcast

It’s not always easy to get your foot in the door as an instructional coach. On this coaching call, I chat with Liz DeVargas Almeida about coaching teachers of English Language Learners (ELL). We discuss some of the challenges she’s facing and how to get support from the administration. Liz and I talk about defining your instructional coaching role and purpose. Listen to learn how to use an instructional coaching menu to help teachers understand what supports you offer.

Ever wish you had someone to listen to your coaching struggles and give you a different perspective?

Or maybe you’re stuck and want to get some new ideas?

That’s why I started these coaching calls. I wanted to have frank discussions about the highs and the lows of being an instructional coach with people out there in the field.

On this coaching call, Liz DeVargas Almeida and I talk about the challenges she’s having getting in the door with some teachers. Liz is an academic coach working with teachers of English Language Learners (ELL).

During the call, we talk about common problems for coaches. We brainstorm ideas for getting support from the administration and how to get invited into classrooms. We talk about what to do when you’re being pulled in different directions and how to make sure the stakeholders know your coaching role.

We discuss strategies including using a coaching menu and having model classrooms to validate the effectiveness of coaching work.

Challenges for Instructional Coaches

Many coaches get thrown into their role without having a framework set up or structures in place. We build the plane as we fly it and that can be difficult.

This is a timeless and evergreen problem with coaching. It’s even more pronounced now with fewer coaches and everyone expected to take on broader roles. 

On this episode of The Coaching Podcast, Liz and I chat about how her role has been fluidly defined or undefined. We also talk about getting the administration to support the work she is there to do on campus.

One of Liz’s biggest issues is that she can’t visit classrooms unless she’s invited, and the administration is not making it happen. They say it would be nice, but they don’t require it.

There is no culture of coaching or implementation. Teachers might use what they learn, but maybe they don’t. It can be hard to gain traction with all the mixed messages.

Since Liz is not being brought into the classrooms to see lessons taught, a data walk can be a good alternative. On these data walks, you read the walls and make observations. You take note of the artifacts in the room.

Depending on your school culture, you could go in before or after school to do these walks. It’s often better to go in when teachers are not teaching because it’s less stressful for them.

On the walk, you would look around the room using the data for the school. You then meet with the administration to let them know what you saw in the rooms. From there, you create an action plan.

What to Do When You Are Pulled in a Million Different Directions

One of the most common challenges as a coach is being pulled to do things not in your original job description. When there were staff shortages or around testing time, I would get asked to do other things.

Liz shares on the call that she gets asked to do student intervention work on top of her coaching responsibilities. This is something that I was asked to do, and I came up with a few ideas to do both at the same time. 

1. Take your group on tour – When I worked with a small group of kids for intervention, I would take my group on tour to other classrooms. I would let the teacher know in advance that I would be working with my group of students. The teacher could observe me modeling and trying out a new strategy while my group got the intervention.

2. Make videos of teaching strategies – A video library is a great form of support. You can record lessons taught during intervention work. Then teachers can watch the videos on their schedules.

3. Push in, instead of pulling out the students  – When all the students come from the same classroom you can work with them in their room. This gives you a chance to model for the teacher while providing intervention.

This episode has a lot of information to support your coaching work. Be sure to check out the entire episode to get all my tips.

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

Check me out at buzzingwithmsb.com and on Instagram @buzzingwithmsb.

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Podcast produced by Fernie Ceniceros

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