Today’s post is inspired by a question from our #coachbetter Facebook group! Diana is sharing five approaches coaches can use in developing relationships with families at their school. If you have questions about coaching that you would like us to answer here and in our 5 Min Fri videos, please join the #coachbetter Facebook group and we’ll do our best to answer it for you!
The Relationship Between Coaches and Families
As we develop our roles and build our skills and strategies as coaches, we tend to focus on our interactions with our colleagues, students, and administrators. But what about our relationships with our parent community and families? As classroom teachers we would have had direct communication with our students’ parents. As coaches we are working with potentially many if not all of the teachers in our school or division and may not be directly responsible for a specific group of students and being in contact with their families. So how does a coach approach their relationship with families?
1: Communicate Your Role Clearly
First of all, your role as a coach in the school needs to be communicated clearly to families. Just as this is important to do with colleagues and administration, parents and guardians need to understand your purpose within the school and especially how it relates to their childrens’ education. Many adults may not have had experience with a school-based coach in their own educational experience so explaining why a coach might be working with their child’s teachers will help them understand and appreciate the benefits of teachers and coaches working together. This could be done at back to school events, curriculum nights, grade or class level events, via parent groups, and through the school website.
2: Collaborate with Teachers & Admin
Secondly, collaborate with teachers and administrators to support their interactions with families. Depending on your coaching role – instructional, literacy, math, educational technology, STEM, or innovation – you can provide content and clarification on topics related to your coaching focus. Your experience and knowledge can contribute to what is communicated to families and how it is shared. This may be contributing to a regular school community newsletter or developing talking points for a parent meeting.
3: Facilitate or Contribute to Events
Additionally, facilitating or contributing to parent and family events related to your area of expertise and coaching role are a great way to engage with families. Parents and guardians will be looking for information and guidance regarding their child’s educational experience. As a coach, you can facilitate discussions and interactions so parents and guardians can share their experiences and concerns and build connections and community with other families. These events can also provide families an opportunity to experience what students at their school are learning through hands-on activities and model lessons.
4: Curate & Develop Resources
To support family events and parent learning, coaches can develop and curate resources to share with the community on meaningful topics and have them accessible through a school website or portal. This way parents and guardians can access important information and guidance to better understand how to support their child’s learning. When possible, coaches can help locate or find assistance in locating or translating important information for families at multilingual schools.
Finally, just as you do with your colleagues, Listen. Parents may approach you at school events or parent learning sessions with questions and concerns. Focus on listening, clarifying questions, and offer support and guidance as appropriate or plan for follow up if more information is needed. Additionally, take advantage of family surveys to get insight into their priorities and perspectives so you are better able to address those as a school team.
Overall, you can develop positive, engaging relationships with families as a coach by applying some of the same strategies you use with your colleagues by developing your relationships with them through communication, collaboration, facilitating learning, sharing resources, and listening. As a coach you may not have as much direct contact with parents and guardians as classroom teachers and administrators, but any opportunity you have to interact with them will enhance your work with teachers and, ultimately, with their children, and build your presence in the school community.
Also, consider joining our private #coachbetter Facebook group which is a space to learn, share and connect around being better coaches.
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