Why partner with an independent provider for instructional coaching, planning, and professional development, rather than just doing everything in-house?
In many schools and districts, the primary “official” roles of instructional coaches include deeply understanding the curriculum, monitoring fidelity of implementation, leading professional development and/or PLC meetings, observing and training teachers, modeling lessons, overseeing administration of assessments, and data tracking. “Unofficial” roles often include substituting for absent personnel, attending district or state required trainings in areas unrelated to instruction, and pressuring teachers to comply with building and district directives.
When you hire an independent coach, you do not lose coaching time to substitute teaching, required meetings and trainings, and/or building and district directives. Instead, you contract your coach solely for services related to instructional improvement and student achievement, and your coach’s input is not confined to resources from the specific curriculum your school or district has purchased. Other duties can include personalized, responsive curriculum creation, collaborative planning, data analysis, goal setting, and professional development. And just like with in-district staff, you own everything you pay for, so it doesn’t leave when the partnership with your independent coach ends.
Truly Independent Expertise
An independent coach or partner is not limited to specific instructional programs or strategies prescribed by a school or district. The job of an independent partner is to look at what is currently happening at a school, develop a deep understanding of problems that students, staff, and leadership are facing, compare that with current research and his/her years of expertise, and present and support the implementation of solutions that truly match the problems. Your independent partner can then monitor the effectiveness of practices and and implementations through modeling, observation, and data collection, supporting staff to make adjustments and modifications regularly to ensure excellent results in the long term.
An independent coach can provide comprehensive, results-driven, proven instructional support for about one-half the cost of an in-house coach. In addition, an independent coach has experience in a wide variety of resources and curricula from which to draw, not just the ones a school or district provides training around, so contributions can often be more robust and balanced. An independent coach provides resources, coaching, and tools that lead to positive results in order to gain and maintain contracts. This means that you can count on highly-effective tools, techniques, and supports that are designed, monitored, and modified regularly to increase student achievement and build teacher confidence. If you aren’t satisfied with the services provided, you just don’t renew the coach’s contract.
Less Teacher Burnout
In an effort to respond to the increased demand for results, evidence, and proof in education, the amount of items for which teachers are now accountable has become unmanageable. There is a reason that so many excellent educators are leaving the profession; in many ways, today’s educational system seems to value what you can prove, and what methods or programs you use to teach, over whether or not students actually grow and become high achievers. For those educators who entered the teaching profession because they wanted to connect with and make a difference on behalf of children, the purpose seems to have run dry.
By having an independent, non-evaluative partner to provide instructional coaching, differentiated planning, and ongoing support and problem-solving to teachers, teachers can spend less energy on planning and differentiation and focus their efforts on being present with students. Being present allows teachers to observe what students are doing so that they can respond and adjust quickly to meet student needs. In addition, having an independent, non-evaluative partner to discuss what these adjustments might look like and support with modeling, planning, and implementation reduces teacher workload.