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Instructional Coaching: Lessons from Coach Hoiberg

FredThe Slice of Life Challenge comes right at the height of the basketball season. The Big 12 Championship game is in the books. And, yes, my beloved CYCLONES took the title! Today I re-watched highlights and celebrations as well as read a few articles about the game, the win, and the Iowa State team in general. One article stood out. In fact I did a close read of the article as coaching lessons, even for instructional coaches, started to emerge.

Check out the article Iowa State Calmly Wins Frenetic Big 12 Title.

Lesson 1 – Stay Calm

If you have ever watched an Iowa State basketball game you probably noticed the calm demeanor of Coach Fred Hoiberg. He has the “never let them see you sweat” coaching style. Basketball coaching is demanding work. There is enough to get worked up about during a 40 minute college game. In the last three games, ISU has come from behind to win. Yet, The Mayor (aka Fred Hoiberg) stayed as calm as a cucumber. And his players react in the same fashion. Under the pressure they feel comfortable, not worried at all, and have a sense that everything will be fine in the end.

Instructional coaching is demanding work as well. Coaches have extremely busy schedules. They work with a wide variety of people – some accepting of their role while others are hesitant. The duties of a coach are widespread from facilitating PLCs and professional development sessions, working one-on-one with teachers, and behind the scenes work such as compiling data, researching best practices and deepening their understanding of quality instruction.  Taking on a “never let them see you sweat” approach is essential. A calm instructional coach helps spread harmonious working conditions.

Lesson 2 – Trust the Players/Teachers

As the article mentions, “In the past five games, Iowa State has trailed by a combined 75 points” yet they are 5 – 0 in those games. Sometimes it is hard to watch them be so far behind, but Hoiberg trusts his players. When they were down by 17, the article mentioned that he “just told them to cut into it a little at a time.” And they did. He trusts they will get the job done.

Trusting relationships with teachers (and administrators) is another key to successful instructional coaching. Coaches need to remember that teachers are with their students on a daily basis. Teachers know their students and their needs well. They can benefit from reflective dialogue, but can sense when dialogue has a hidden message. Coaches need to trust teachers and become extremely interested in what they are doing. Ask questions of inquiry about what is working rather than pointing out what might not be working at the moment. Work together to meet the needs of the students each teacher holds close to their heart!

Lesson 3 – Treat others with Respect

Coach Hoiberg simply coaches the way he’d like to be coached – with respect. The article stated, “His message is endlessly positive and almost always delivered quietly. He doesn’t panic so they (the players) don’t panic.” He truly believes in his players and respects their skills. His respect (and trust) was so great that he ended the championship game with three timeouts still available (as mentioned in the article.)

Respect is the name of the game for instructional coaches, too. Coaching isn’t a position of power. Coaching is a partnership – a respectful partnership. Coaches benefit from getting to know the teachers at a school – at both a personal and professional level. It is helpful to find connection. Get to know each teacher’s passion. Build on their strengths. And respect them to know when they feel they would benefit from coaching. Teaching has been a private profession for years and not every teacher feels comfortable with coaching from the start. “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

My friend, Fran McVeigh, commented on Coach Hoiberg’s coaching style another way this morning: resilience, stamina, and patience. Fran, if we are lucky we may have another CY-HAWK game yet this year! Always a good time!

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slice of lifeMarch 2015, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge! This is post #15. More Slice of Life posts from other bloggers can be found on Two Writing Teachers.

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1 Comment

  • Barbara Leete 25 Mar

    Fantastic article! Definitely three rocks….resilience, stamina and patience.

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