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Communicating with School Administrators, Ep. 138 Buzzing with Ms. B: The Coaching Podcast

This episode is sponsored by Sibme

Communicating with school administrators is an important skill for any instructional coach. You and your administrator need to be able to talk and have a clear understanding of your role or you’ll struggle all year long.

For this episode, we’re doing something a little bit different. You’ll get a sneak peek into my course – The Confident Literacy Course

This course recently underwent a major update in reading and writing modules. This was done so you get more information about the foundations of skilled reading and writing, and how to support your teachers in implementing these evidence-based practices in their instruction. The update took me a couple of months to complete, but now it’s ready to go. I’m opening up the course doors soon and wanted to share a lesson.

Front view of a cup of pencil and multicolored sticky notes on a desk with the words "Communicating with School Administrators" on the top.

This episode is Lesson 2 from Module 1 of The Confident Literacy Coach. It’s all about communicating with school administrators. During the lesson, I share ideas for creating a plan to talk with your principal, give you tips for communicating effectively, and explain why it’s essential to have a clearly stated role. I also give you my tips on how to word your requests so you get a yes! This short episode will teach you how to design a plan so you can discuss your goals, role, and responsibilities with your administration. 

Topics and Questions Discussed in Episode 138 – Communicating with School Administrators – A Lesson from The Confident Literacy Course

  • How to communicate effectively with administrators
  • Creating a plan for communicating with your principal
  • Being a problem solver and approaching your admin with a plan or ideas rather than complaints
  • Talking to your administrator about your role 
  • Framing conversations with principals

If you want to learn more, get on The Confident Literacy Coach waitlist, and I’ll send you a message when the course is open. You can also grab my free webinar at www.buzzingwithmsb.com/webinar. In the webinar, you’ll learn how you define your coaching role and how to communicate that role. This will help you work with your teachers and admin in a more purposeful way. 

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Podcast produced by Fernie Ceniceros

Episode 137 – Communicating with School Administrators

buzzing with ms b  00:02

Are you new to coaching? Starting out as a coach can be incredibly overwhelming, especially when you aren’t given much direction from your administration. That’s why I created the new coaches playbook. It includes a roadmap to help you start building your coaching Foundation, and a guide, seven podcast episodes in order that will give you the steps and ideas you need to build relationships, define your role, communicate with your admin, and make a plan to start coaching.

buzzing with ms b  00:31

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buzzing with ms b  01:02

As a special offer for listeners of buzzing with Miss be the coaching podcast, they’re giving away an opportunity to experience Sydney for yourself for free for a whole year. Go to sydney.com/buzz to learn more. claim your free coaching package and win a $25 Visa gift card to claim your coaching package go to sydney.com/buzz that’s s I B M e.com. Forward slash V us ZZ Sydney changing the way people learn at work.

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You’re listening to buzzing with Miss B, the coaching podcast where we believe that every teacher deserves a coach. And every coach does too. I’m Chrissy Beltran, an instructional coach, resource creator and coffee enthusiast, and I’m your host, stay tuned for practical tips and honest coaching talk that will help you coach with confidence.

buzzing with ms b  02:03

Hey, Coach, welcome to episode 138. For this episode, we’re doing something a little bit different. You know that I have a course for literacy coaches called the confident literacy coach. Recently, this coat this course underwent a major update in reading and writing modules in order to provide more information about the foundations of skilled reading and writing, and how to support your teachers in implementing these evidence based practices into their reading and writing instruction.

buzzing with ms b  02:32

The course update took me a couple of months to complete, but now it’s ready to go. And because of course is going to be open in all of its updated glory in April, I wanted to share a lesson with you that as an important, it’s an important component of the human side of coaching. The first three months of this podcast season season four of all about the human have been all about the human side of coaching, where we’ve talked about mindset influence trait influencing change building relationships, how we can make teaching environments better. And now we’re going to start looking specifically at communication. This lesson is actually listened to of module one of the confident literacy coach, and it’s all about communicating with administrators. In this lesson I share about how administrator perspectives are different from coach and teacher perspectives. how essential it is to have clearly stated roles and goals and how to word your requests so that you get a yes, because that’s what we’re going for the listen to this episode today and learn how to communicate with your admin.

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And if this lesson is helpful and eye opening, check out the course at confident literacy coach.com Just sign up for the waitlist and I’ll send you a message when the course is open. You can also grab a free webinar at buzzing with msp.com/webinar. This talks about this webinar talks about how you define your coaching role and how you communicate that role. So I recommend that you check it out. If you’re feeling like teachers are not letting you into the classroom, they’re not really sure what you’re there to do, they don’t have a ton of trust, check out that webinar because it will make all of the difference for you and it’s free. Okay, so here you go. Listen into module one, lesson two. Hey coaches and welcome to module one. Lesson two, we are still working on establishing ourselves as coaches but today we’re going to focus on communicating with your administrator.

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So here you are in the cycle of events here that we are participating in in module one, we are communicating within administrators and then we will move on to introducing your role to teachers etc. So this is the goal for this session today. Make a plan to discuss your goals, roles and responsibilities with your administrator. And why does that matter?

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This is huge. You and your administrator need to be on the same page or you will struggle all year long. You may have had that experience already, where you have been at odds with your administrator and part of it could be that you had a very different idea of what your role on your campus was.

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This will also help you define your role to teachers be because once you’ve gotten it clear with your admin, you are prepared to share it with teachers. So let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Administrators are different. Okay, but how different are they? Well, these are some ways that administrators might see things differently than a coach, they may be thinking about growth of the whole school and not necessarily individual teachers. That’s not always the case. Some administrators are excellent. And really, we’ll see individual teachers and how they need to grow and how you need to differentiate support. But oftentimes, they approach things with a blanket approach.

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They know all the tasks that have to be done school wide. So every minutia of your job might not be where they want to spend their thought their time thinking. They’re often focused on accountability. And by accountability, sometimes that teacher accountability, but oftentimes, it’s legal accountabilities federal accountability, state accountability, what they have to do, in order to make sure they’ve, you know, dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s, they may or may not have an instructional background. And this is a big one. If you’re approaching a principal, looking for guidance, if you don’t have an instructional background yourself, and you’re needing that support in that content area, they may not be the person that can provide that support to you.

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They may also not have an idea of how they can support teachers on their campus instructionally because they have not done it themselves. Yes, they’ve had to have taught in the classroom, but you know what that could look like. So maybe they taught for three years, and then being there in AP. And then they do that for a couple years. And being their principal, the time they spent in the classroom may not have even been near the grade levels that they’re working with. Now, it could have been completely different content area, and they might not have been that great. I mean, don’t tell your principal, I said that. But it’s possible, right. So they may not have the instructional background that that we would like them to have in order to be instructional leaders on campus. They value problem solvers. Complaints aren’t helpful, but ideas are. So if you come to your principal, and you say I have all these problems, they may just stare at you with blank eyes, because they’re like,

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Well, what do you want me to do about any of those things, if you say, this is an issue that I see. And so this is what I think I should do, or this is what I think we should do, you are much more likely to get buy in. So definitely approach with a solution with a plan with ideas. Even if they don’t take your plan, they’re more likely to follow up and create a plan themselves than if you just walk in and say I have all these problems. So let’s talk about how we can communicate effectively with our administrators so that we can really define our role with them and ensure that we are doing the work that we both agree we should be working on. First step, ask for a good time to talk. principals don’t always love the pop in, okay, if you just pop in and you’re like, Well, I would love to have a long drawn out conversation with you about my purpose for life, they might not be excited to have that conversation with you.

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So you really want to make sure that it’s a good time to talk to them. You want to keep the conversation very focused and purposeful, have a plan for the conversation so that you can make sure that you’re getting your point across and you’re getting the specific information back from them that you need, use the language of their goals to support what you want. And that is kind of little insider tip, we’ll talk a little bit about what that could look like. But the idea is that your principal is big on virtual learning or what isn’t everybody now, or they’re big on using interactive notebooks or they think that the 5g model is to die for us the language of what they’re trying to grow to support the goals that you’re trying to go as well.

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So you can show some alignment there. Because they’re more likely to support you. If it sounds familiar. relate your goals to accountability goals. For example, test data principles are held to the you know, their feet are held to the fire for those scores. And so if they are not seeing how it can support in the end, improved, you know, test scores, then they are less likely to do what you want to do. The thing is better teaching supports better test scores, kids who learn how to read do better on the test. Kids who learn how to write do better on the test, and teachers who can teach kids how to read and write have kids who do better on the test. So it’s okay to focus on authentic learning and then explain it will be supportive of your test goals. And then explain how what you want to do will grow the whole school. If we focus too small. Sometimes principals are like, Yeah, but we have a lot of people we’ve got to be providing for here.

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How is that going to move our school forward. So make sure that you make it clear how what you’re going to do is going to move your school forward. So here’s what I want you to do to think about the goals that you have and how you can frame them in a principle friendly way. Look back at your goals from lesson one. You should have created three goals in that lesson. And that will help you frame your conversation with your principal. Now you’re going to add an action step. What will this look like? Okay, and then you’re going to explain how this will support a school wide goals such as testing or another accountability goal that the principal may have expressed as being really important.

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So here’s an example if your goal Oh, which mine was to provide learning opportunities about breath best practices and literacy that move from workshops to implementation in the classroom. The action step that I can use when we talked about using an action step. So the action step that I can pair is I will host for after school workshops about best practices and literacy to include readers workshop guided reading Writers Workshop and student engagement strategies. Okay, that’s my second step there. My third step is to explain how this will support a school wide goals such as testing or another accountability goal. So I can say this will support teachers and teaching their state standards authentically. So we know the standards are tied to the test, right.

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So if we’re coming back and saying authentic instruction, using the standards that may ring a bell for your principal, we will use these quality learning experiences to build real readers who can demonstrate success on a test building the bridge from authentic learning to test taking situation, which might be something that they are familiar with, not trying to say anything bad about administrators, their administrators are as varied as teachers, right? They’re all different kinds of administrators are all different kinds of coaches and all different kinds of teachers.

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And you may have the magical fairy teacher or administrator I did, who remember what it was like to be in the classroom, for the most part, and who was an amazing communicator and was an instructional leader, and knew what she knew and knew when she didn’t know, or you might have one of those, you also might not. And in that case, sometimes you have to speak the lingo a little bit to make sure that you are communicating your thinking effectively.

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So let’s talk about having that dialogue with your administrator. Now you know what you want to work on, right? You want you know how you framed it in an administrator friendly way. So let’s talk about what that conversation can look like. First, you want to ask about their goals for the coaching position that you’re in, and how they envision your role. Step two, share your role and your goals what you were thinking about it. And then step three, come to an agreement about the responsibilities that you will complete.

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This is where you have the opportunity to say, I really want to work on this thing that I know you think is important for our school, I think that’s going to make it difficult for me to do this other thing. That is also something that’s going to be a huge time suck for you and not something you need to do. So let’s talk about how that conversation might look. And you’ve got a conversation planner in your guidebook that I really recommend that you that you use to plan this out. That’s the folder that I’ve got there on the right.

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The idea is that they might have ideas to add to your goals, or they may completely change your focus and say, Look, that is not the direction I believe that we need to head that is just the truth, they might need you to go in a different direction. Okay. Now, the good thing is, you might be able to compromise if you can find commonalities. So what does that look like? That looks like you’re saying, This is what I was wanting to work on. And they say, This is what I was wanting you to work on. Sometimes it’s just a language disparity. And you need to say, You know what, I see where you’re going with that.

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And I believe I can support that by doing XYZ, right? Spell it out, make a concrete plan. If they are completely in a different direction, you might have to give up something and say, Okay, I can see where you’re coming from. With that, I can see that that’s a good direction for our school to move. Perhaps I can, you know, cut back on this area and focus on that and support teachers in this way. The bottom line is you want to you want to come up with a plan that is workable to both of you. And you want to make sure that you are going to be prepared to provide that support to teachers in a meaningful way.

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Because if you can’t, then nothing’s going to change. So that is pretty much what I have for you for this lesson. Lesson Two action, I want you to take a set a meeting with your administrator, prepare yourself with the documents in the guide. So you’ve got your goals already set. And now you also have your checklist of responsibilities and roles that you’ve completed your handout in 1.2. It says 1.2. On the top right is your conversation planner. So plan out your conversation, identifying what your main goal is for the position, how you are asking the principal, what your main goal is how they envision the role of the coach, and sharing the coaching role that you envision based on those goals that you have already set.

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Right. Make sure that you use them an advocate, you provide them an admin friendly language so that you’ve got the action step and the tie to accountability or testing or whatever it is it is important to your administrator. And then use that roles and responsibilities checklist to go through the roles and responsibilities and ensure that you’re being clear about each item being added to your plate that it’s essential for you to do that work. And then put record your extra questions that you have on there as well. So whenever you meet with your admin, you are prepared to have a really thorough conversation.

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Great job finishing this session. I hope that you’ve enjoyed it and stay tuned for Lesson three because Lesson three is about Okay. You’ve set your goals you know what your role is for yourself. You’ve communicated with your admin so you’re prepared to identify your role for teachers. So lesson three is all about sharing your your work with them, identifying what it is that you’re going to do and letting them know how you can support them. because this is a crucial piece, it’s so important in doing your coaching work that your teachers know why you’re there.

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So I will see you back for lesson three. All right, Coach, I hope that was super helpful. I know that communicating with administrators is such a challenge. And so much of it is that we’re coming from completely different perspectives. So I hope that this kind of helped you to see some methods that you could use to interact with your admin and kind of get some of your your ideas on the board.

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So if you loved it, again, go to confident literacy coach.com, sign up for that waitlist, and I’ll send you a message when the course is open, it’s going to open up very soon in April, and grab that free webinar buzzing with mfi.com/webinar. So you can really define that role, and work with your teachers and admin in a better and more purposeful way. Next week, we are going to have a great conversation about conversations.

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So I’m looking forward to this episode 139 Next week, because we’re going to talk a little bit about how to improve the conversations that we have with teachers. And until then, Oh, I forgot to share my favorite thing. Oh my goodness, I cannot believe that I was forgetting this. Okay, so my current favorite thing is my right on calendar. And I know that everybody loves digital calendars, but I am just an old person. And I love paper calendars. I always buy the blue sky calendars. But this year, I actually grabbed a bloom planner, and I really like it. I wasn’t sure I was gonna like it, but I really do. It’s really pretty thick and durable. The front has like a little pocket on the inside so I can put little things in there and forget that they’re in there which is one of the things that I love to do. So anyway, that’s my favorite thing. I almost had happy coaching without telling my favorite thing. I’m so sorry. So anyway, next week I will see you for that episode about better conversations and until then, happy coaching

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Thank you for listening to buzzing with Miss B the coaching podcast. Want more coaching ideas? Check me out at buzzing with Ms. b.com and on Instagram at buzzing with Miss B. If you love the show, share it with a coach who would love it too. Or leave me a review on iTunes. It’s free and it helps others find this show. Happy coaching!


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