As coaches, we often talk about our roles within our school or organization. Some coaches have well defined job descriptions while others may not be clear on what is expected of them and find themselves trying to define and communicate their role largely on their own. In any case, however, we need to look deeper into the priorities of the role of the coach and where their time and energies are being focused. 

In today’s episode, I’m going to share five questions you can consider in addressing the priorities of a coach at your school or organization. 

The role of a coach  is one of the topics we address inside The Coach Certificate and Mentorship program. This  academic, year-long online certificate & mentorship program will empower you to confidently apply instructional coaching strategies in any situation – from having coaching conversations, to building a coaching program, to being a leader in your school community. Registration for our annual global cohort opens only once a year and the date is coming soon! This episode will give you a peek into the  kinds of conversations  you can experience and if The Coach is right for you! Head over to to find out more.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the role of a coach. In many of my conversations with coaches, through mentoring, workshops, and group discussions, we often spend a lot of time discussing the roles of a coach. I have used the work of Joellen Killion, one of the authors of Coaching Matters and a leader in instructional coaching, and her list of ten roles and responsibilities of coaches. This list includes resource provider, data coach, curriculum specialist, learning facilitator, mentor, and school leader. In addition to these roles, many coaches will add other roles and responsibilities they have at their school, both as part of their job description and additional expectations that arise…coaching related and “other duties as assigned”. In many cases, coaches share their concern with lack of clarity or focus for their role and/or being overwhelmed with taking on such a wide variety of responsibilities without clear priorities. 

Here’s an important point that is often overlooked…just because coaches CAN do so many things, doesn’t mean you SHOULD be doing all these things. Although Joellen Killion identifies 10 key roles of a coach, she is also careful to note that coaches should only be doing 2-3 of these roles as a focused priority. I’ve had this experience myself & it’s consistent with what we see with our participants inside The Coach Certificate & Mentorship program

Although there are a wide variety of coaching roles and situations, you can start with a few questions to reflect on the priorities for your role as a coach in your context. 

1: How does your job description of a coach align with the priorities or goals of the school or organization?

Take a look at your school’s mission, vision, and other organizational statements. How are those reflected in your job description? How is ‘coaching’ defined and communicated?

2: How would you categorize all your different responsibilities and expectations as a coach?

You might start with Joellen Killion’s list of ten coaching roles and responsibilities to organize all the different things you are doing. You might need to include additional categories to describe your work.

3: How do teachers interact with you as a coach? 

Consider what access teachers have to you and their comfort level in working with a coach. If you’re finding teachers reluctant to work with you as a coach, it’s likely because they don’t have a clear picture of what you do – which might be because you’re doing too many things or they think you are too busy.

4: Where is your time and energy as a coach being focused?

If you aren’t already, consider tracking how your time is being spent. You might use the categories of roles and responsibilities to collect data. Look at the decision making process for how you are using your time as a coach. This will reveal the current priorities of your coaching program – intentional or not.

5: How do your priorities in theory compare to the priorities in practice? 

Although the description and focus on coaching varies widely for schools and organizations, it’s now time to take a serious look at what coaching should look like in your context and how it is actually put into practice. As a coach, what should the priorities be for you to best serve your school community? How does that compare to what is actually happening?

Once you’ve reflected on your coaching role and gathered some information related to how your time and energy is being utilized, it might be time to bring any issues or concerns to your administration. The key is that you and school leadership need to be in alignment so that you, the teachers, and the school community are clear on the priorities of coaching for your school or organization. The success of a coaching program is dependent on a role that is well-defined AND focused on a few priorities that align with the goals of the school or organization. 

Is this a challenge you’re facing in your coaching practice? This is something we can work through inside The Coach Certificate & Mentorship Program, customized to your unique needs. We can help you raise this issue with your school leaders so that your role is in alignment with the expectations that are set.

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Is it time to reflect on your coaching program?

As you read through those questions about defining your role as a coach, where do you think your program is thriving, and where might it be struggling? If now is the time for you to think how you can begin the process to ensure coaching is successful in your school environment, you might like our brand new free download: Coaching Program Evaluation!

You’ll walk through all of the steps in the THRIVE model to determine where your current program needs attention – and where you’re already strong. You’ll have a clear understanding of the gaps that you need to address in your program. You can even dig deeper into the evaluation process with our upcoming LIVE webinar: 3 Steps to Create a Thriving Coaching Culture All Coaches Need to Know!

Webinar Description: Are you struggling to build a coaching culture in your school setting? Are you frustrated by teacher reluctance or lack of leadership? Do you feel like something is missing to make coaching work? There are 3 key elements necessary to create a thriving coaching culture in all school settings. But, the reality is that most schools are missing one – and they don’t even realize it! In this workshop, you’ll learn exactly what’s needed to create a thriving coaching culture AND get the tools to identify the gaps in your coaching program so you can take action immediately! Are you ready to create a thriving coaching culture in your school this year?

And, if you’re ready to fill those gaps, that’s exactly what we do inside The Coach Certificate and Mentorship Program. Wherever you are in building a coaching culture in your school, The Coach will give you the strategies, skills and tools you need to make coaching a success and will empower you to confidently apply instructional coaching strategies in any situation – from building a coaching program, to having coaching conversations, to being a leader in your school community. We facilitate only one cohort each academic year so we can offer individualized support for each participant.

Registration for our next global cohort opens on the 21st February and closes on the 14th of March.

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