Principal – Instructional Coach Relationship

Once a month I will be writing a blog post for my agency, Northwest AEA, in Sioux City, Iowa. Each of our specialty areas submits a post once a month. I have been asked to submit this year’s posts on the topic of Instructional Coaching.

I have decided I will include each post on my own blog site as well.

A positive relationship between teachers and the instructional coach is essential for any instructional coaching program. This relationship, built upon the Partnership Principles described by Dr. Jim Knight are the key to a successful program. Yet, it is the relationship between the principal and the instructional coach that sets the stage. If you have questions on ways to develop this relationship, read on!

There are many resources available to assist in developing this relationship.

  • Partnership Learning: This site provides a description of partnership learning as well as other resources such as The Partnership Learning Field Book (PDF) and a video from Dr. Jim Knight describing partnership learning. Not only are teachers and coaches partners, but principal and coaches should be as well. This TEAM approach (Together Everyone Accomplishes More) guides the work.
  • Jim Knight’s most recent book: Unmistakable Impact: A Partnership Approach for Dramatically Improving Instruction simplifies the process of becoming an Impact School through targeted, consistent professional learning. The principal and coach play a key role in the development of an Impact School. Chapter 3 is devoted to the role of the principal and Chapter 4 is devoted to the role of the instructional coach. An Impact School, according to Jim Knight includes:
    • A focused, clearly defined improvement plan that takes into account the complexity of teaching and learning relationships
    • A school culture that encourages enrollment in ongoing professional development
    • Alignment of purpose and actions among all staff members
  • The Learning Principal publications (Vol.5, No.5, Spring 2010) from Learning Forward (formerly The National Staff Development Council) centers around Clarify the Coach’s Role: Solid Partnership with Principal is Key to Effectiveness. The issue provides many valuable resources on what school leaders need to know about the Principal-Coach Partnership Agreements. The author states, “The agreements typically are about the scope of the work, expected results, and other details associated with the coach’s work with individuals or teams.” There are many agenda items provided to aid in building this strong partnership foundation.
  • Chapter 2 of Building Teacher’s Capacity for Success, by Pete Hall and Alisa Simeral guides the readers to become familiar with the Coach-Administrator Partnership. The authors begin the chapter by stating, “When Strength-Based School Improvement is done right, there is a strong and viable collaboration between the school administrator and the instructional coach. Although there are some pretty clear-cut role boundaries each must respect if they hope to create positive change, there are also some significant similarities between the two positions. More than anything else—and we hope to emphasize this point enough that it takes hold—the coach and the administrator are partners in this venture, not adversaries. They work together. And quite clearly, both have the same ultimate goal: school improvement.”

Do you have other resources to share on the Principal-Instructional Coach Relationship? Global and local connections can provide an avenue for continued learning! Let’s learn from each other!

For additional information on Instructional Coaching please check out the #educoach Wiki. #educoach is a Twitter Chat that takes place each Wednesday evening at 9:00 CST. Educators from all over the globe, interested in instructional coaching, take part in this fast-paced dialogue developed around a specific topic voted on by the participants. Hope to see you there!

Photo credits: cc licensed flickr photo shared by Horia Varlan