When we first start out as coaches we just want to work with coaching partners. We are focused on building relationships and beginning 1:1 coaching conversations, which leads to coaching cycles.

Over time, when we’ve built enough momentum in our community and teachers are enthusiastic about working with a coach, we start to realize that we might not be able to keep up this pace.

While we might love working 1:1 with our coaching partners, and seeing great results from our coaching cycles the reality is that we may not have the time or capacity to exclusively work 1:1 so we have to start scaling our work. I talked about this in a previous QuickTips episode, Scaling Your Impact as an Instructional Coach.

This is when we might start thinking about the sustainability of our coaching practice – and if the school has the systems and structures in place to ensure that coaching can be sustainable. There’s a big difference between having coaches on staff, and making sure the actual practice of coaching is sustainable over time.

If this is something you’re thinking about, this video will give you a good introduction – to dig deeper into this topic, make sure to check out the free workshop, Scaling Your Impact as an Instructional Coach, for your next steps!

For this post, I’m pulling together

I’m going to bring together these ideas into 5 elements that need to be in place to ensure coaching has the potential to be sustainable, but before I do, I want to highlight two key things:

1: Coaching is a systemic change, 

it’s not a “one person solution”, it’s a change that requires input, involvement, buy-in and support at all different levels. When we think about the first phase of the Thrive Model, this is part of Finding Clarity. When we begin (or continue the conversation about instructional coaching), it’s essential to understand that the whole organization as a system needs to support the sustainability of coaching. Two helpful resources that you can use to think about this is Systems Thinking from Peter Senge and the Knoster Model for Managing Complex Change.

Carla Marschall says:

“You need an umbrella under which coaching fits. Framing it as “we are a learning organization” (using Peter Senge’s definition). This is a tool for us as an organization to grow in order to meet our mission. Coaching is one of the things we use to meet our goals.

Carla Marschall

You can not control a system, it’s not hierarchical (it’s a circle shape, not a triangle). There are lots of interactions and connections between people and parts within an organization. If you want to make change in an organization, you have to think about how the interactions between individuals impact the purpose of the organization. 

You have a fundamental shift from a transactional way of interacting to a more meditative way of interacting. Coaching enables us to create lots of agents of change who are doing good work through deep listening, paraphrasing, questioning which shapes the culture of an organization.”

2: Your Sphere of Control

Consider what is (or is not) in your sphere of control. You’ll likely see that many of them fall outside your sphere of control, and this will be an opportunity to develop your relational leadership skills, to coach up, and be an advocate for the sustainability of instructional coaching in your institution. You, alone, will not make or break the success of coaching. If you want to dig deeper into this – that’s exactly what we’ll be doing in the Coaches as Leaders course!

What’s YOUR level of coaching mastery?

All coaches go through various stages of coaching mastery. Once you identify where you’re at, you can begin to build the skills needed to move to the next stage.

This quiz is based on real-life case studies compiled from years of working with coaches inside The Coach Certificate & Mentorship Program!

When you receive your results, you’ll also get your matching case study from the STRIVE Case Studies to see where you fit in the stages of coaching mastery.

Ready to tackle your challenges and move on to the next level in YOUR coaching practice?

The STRIVE Model of Coaching Mastery quiz will help you identify your level of coaching mastery by matching you with case studies compiled from years of working with coaches inside The Coach Certificate & Mentorship Program so you can easily see where you fit!

When you complete the quiz, you’ll get:

  • Your matching case study,
  • Specific strengths & challenges aligned to your result;
  • Suggested next steps for each stage;

Plus the Case Study Document includes:

  • Case studies leveled by coaching mastery;
  • A framework to identify essential stages of professional growth & key areas to focus on in your professional learning;
  • Alignment with the THRIVE Model for a Successful Coaching Culture;
  • Space for you to reflect & prioritize so you can take action immediately!

You’ll go straight to the Quiz, and get the Case Study Document via email.

5 factors that hinder or support the sustainability of your coaching program

1: Mission / Vision / Purpose for coaching

As Joellen Killion notes: “If I can describe it with specificity, it is far more likely to be achieved, than if I don’t have the capacity to be specific. More time on the what what what, and less time on the how. We do that backwards in schools. We spend a lot of time on the how without clarity on the what.”

  • What is the “WHY” for your school? Why do you want coaches and what are you trying to achieve with coaching? (this is what hurts the reputation of coaching) – (golden circle, if you don’t have the why, you can’t address the how and the what) (Elena Augilar, Mind the Gap)
    • For many schools, the goal of coaching is building capacity & sustainability
  • What is your definition of coaching? Is there a clearly defined purpose for this work?
    • In a previous video I talked about the importance of ensuring coaching is confidential and separate from evaluation / supervision
  • Do all admin understand how coaching works? Are there policies that make it clear that coaching is not evaluative? This is how we ensure that admin (and coaches) do not overstep boundaries.
  • Is there an updated Job Description?
  • Do we have shared clarity around the process of coaching?

2: School Culture

Laura Lipton notes that there needs to be “a vision of learning and growth that is identical for everyone in that organization. So whenever someone is called upon to serve in their role, it should be calibrated to the vision of learning and growth,” and she recommends that as school leaders are developing a coaching program, they ask themselves “to what degree does this align with the greater vision?” She says “Leaders can support this work by ensuring that coaching is modeled respectfully whenever it’s referenced”

  • Does the school have a culture of risk taking & growth mindedness? Is it a safe space to take risks?
  • Do leaders engage in, and model, coaching?
  • Is the conversation about coaching respectful, in all venues?
  • Do we offer professional learning around the value of coaching?
  • Do we have a growth focus with all policy development
    • A coaching mindset is embedded across job descriptions
    • Clarity between coaching conversations and the role of the coach
    • Professional growth opportunities include coaching

3: School Structure

  • Are there structures of support within the school day coaching like:
    • Teacher and team planning time with coaches (make time as opposed to find time)
    • Team norms & protocols for the way we work together, so that we’re using coaching practices regularly
    • Coaches as part of faculty meetings
    • Time is provided on PD days
    • Expectation of open door classrooms
  • Are aspects of coaching built into job descriptions like: team leaders, HoDs, Admin?
  • Is instructional coaching is a full time position?
    • Ensure that time, resources and opportunities are all focused on instructional coaching (as Joellen Killion says: “If coaches are doing non-coaching related work, before you know it, the resource of coaching is lost, yet the investment of coaching is still present without seeing the benefit.”
      • don’t give me other responsibilities, testing coordinator, 5th chaperone on any trip, data crunching for the whole school

4: Support & Evaluation of Coaching

When we separate the coach from the program and the act of coaching (as recommended by Laura Lipton), the impact becomes easier to measure. Defining the purpose of documentation and collecting data in a systematic way will help coaches and school leaders build habits of self-assessment, and will help track the overall growth of the coaching program more consistently. 

  • Is there financial support for professional development specifically for coaches?
    • Coaches need coaching specific professional learning opportunities
    • Coaches need a mentor or a coach (If I hire a coach, that coach has a mentor, and that mentor is paid)
  • Is there a supervision and evaluation process that is coaching specific?
  • Do we intentionally measure (and share) the impact of coaching
  • Do divisional admin make time for meeting with coaches and supporting coaching?
    • coach provides feedback to admin about patterns (non-evaluative

5: Visibility: Curriculum & Professional Learning Alignment

  • Is coaching as part of the Curriculum team?
    • Aligning coaching work with other initiatives within the school, Curriculum Coordinator, etc
    • How do they work together?
    • Coaches work at the curriculum level 
  • Are there offerings from the coach to interact with teachers daily? Do admin making space for this?,), 
  • Are coaches on the calendar for professional learning? (which requires planning)
    • School leaders make time for coaches and coaching on professional learning days, & in meetings

The graphic below is featured in my book chapter, Fostering a Culture of Growth and Belonging: The Multi-Faceted Impact of Instructional Coaching in International Schools, and in the course, Coaches as Leaders.

Just the Beginning!

There is A LOT here, and this is really just the start of understanding what makes coaching work. I hope it’s clear that this is more than just an individual coaches responsibility, and while you can be a passionate advocate for instructional coaching in your school setting, the success of coaching goes well beyond the individual work that you may do as a coach.

Navigating and leveraging your informal leadership skills is essential to support you in building a sustainable coaching culture – and that often requires support – which is exactly what I do!

If you want support as you work through this process, or you just want to dive deeper into how you can have a bigger impact in your sphere of influence, you need to join us in the Coaches as Leaders course!

Registration opens once a year: find all the details at edurolearning.com/cal

Watch the Video

Ready to start making your role sustainable?

My brand new workshop, Scaling Your Impact as an Instructional Coach digs into the specific systems and structures that need to be in place for instructional coaching to be sustainable – including advocating for your role with your senior leadership team.

You can find it at edurolearning.com/scale

This workshop will also give you a preview of our online course for experienced coaches, Coaches as Leaders. So, if you’re an experienced instructional coach, and you’re ready to start thinking about these big picture, systemic structures so you can make your coaching program more sustainable, watch the workshop at edurolearning.com/scale

And, if you discover that you need support as you go through the process, join us for our first global cohort of Coaches as Leaders – designed for experienced coaches ready to advocate for and build the systems and structures that are needed to truly sustain a coaching culture.

In Coaches as Leaders we’ll help you recognize exactly which systems and structures you need (and might be missing in your school setting) so you can make your coaching culture sustainable – for you as an individual coach & for your school.

Registration opens only once a year! 

Get all the details at edurolearning.com/cal

Wherever you are in your coaching journey, we can support you!

If you’re not sure if Coaches as Leaders is right for you, try one of our FREE workshops where you’ll be able to dig deeper into the concepts we talked about today, and get a peek at all of our courses for coaches.

We have workshops (and courses) to support coaches at every stage of their career: from new and aspiring coaches making the move from classroom to coach; to current coaches ready to be more intentional and strategic in their practice; to established coaches leveraging their coaching experience to lead. 

You can them all on our coachbetter website at coachbetter.tv/workshops

If you’re curious right now, you have questions, please reach out. You can leave a comment below, join our #coachbetter Facebook group, or find us on social media at Eduro Learning and send me a DM.  I’d love to support you on your coaching journey. See you next time!

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