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Couples’ Therapy: Laying the Foundation for a Solid Admin/Coach Relationship

general coaching new to coaching relationships Sep 06, 2023

Written by Lisa Kuhn-Oldiges with inspiration from Dr. Katie Ritter and the Forward Edge Curriculum & Integration Team

Many factors play a role in a successful coaching program and one that can launch a coach’s impact into the stratosphere is the admin/coach relationship. The importance of this relationship is often overlooked by administrators while the confidence to cultivate it is sometimes lacking on the coach’s side. Let’s be real. As coaches, we expect to and become adept at working with educators as they strive to provide engaging and challenging experiences that prepare their students for the future. On the other hand, many of us don’t even know where to begin when it comes to working with school or district administrators.

Let's start with understanding that a solid admin/coach relationship can increase a coach’s effectiveness which, in turn, impacts students’ learning. We can encourage our admin to support our role in the following ways:

  • Advocate: admin can help clarify the role of their coach and encourage teachers of all ability levels to work with the coach and celebrate their successes. Heck, they, too, can work with the coach - model for their teachers!
  • Include: when coaches are included in planning meetings, leadership or building-level team meetings, or district initiatives meetings, they are better able to support the expectations and goals of all.
  • Communicate: meeting regularly creates an environment of sharing and collaboration where coaches can support building/district initiatives while working with teachers.
  • Protect: it is imperative that the coach’s time be reserved for working with educators rather than performing administrative duties that take away from their ability to work side-by-side with teachers.

Now, in order for any relationship to be successful, it takes two. We can have the perfect admin supporting us, but if we are not doing our part, the relationship will not blossom in the best way possible. Let’s take a look at how we can lay a solid foundation to build an encouraging, supportive, and collaborative admin/coach relationship.

  • First and foremost, remember that your admin are people, too! Cultivating your relationship with them is just as important as building relationships with teachers. Take a look at the personal items in their office: the books on their bookshelf; the diploma(s) on the wall; posters, pennants, photos on their desk and walls. All of these things are great conversation starters!
  • Meet them where they are. Many admin are new to having a coach and don’t know what the expectations are. Heck, there are admin out there who have had a coach for some time and still are uncertain about or uncomfortable with having a coach because they do not understand what it’s all about. Take time to bring them up to speed, one step at a time.

So, how might we bring them up to speed? Regular admin/coach meetings! The frequency will vary, depending on your assignment and your admin’s schedule.

  • What is your building assignment?
    • If you are in one building 4 or 5 days a week, it would be reasonable to meet with your admin every other week or even participate in regularly-scheduled leadership meetings in the building.
    • If, however, you are one coach in a multi-building district where you are on-campus only once a week or less, it would be reasonable to meet once a month. In some cases, it might make more sense to meet every other month.
  • What about district-level admin?
    • Absolutely, you want to meet with them, too! These meetings might be a little less frequently, say, every 6-8 weeks, but they are valuable in empowering you to support your district’s initiatives and for keeping admin in the loop so they can support your efforts.

Are you still with me? Good, because some of you may be wondering, “Exactly what should I talk about at these meetings?” I have found that there are two major buckets: the first admin meeting and the regular monthly meetings. While the regular meetings might include some general agenda items such as teacher/student bright spots, challenges, a section for follow-up items, and opportunities, the first admin meeting should include time for logistics that get everyone on the same page. Here is a sample checklist you might use:

It's highly likely that you are reading this thinking, “But I’ve already had my first admin meeting of the year.” Great! You can fit these items in at your next meeting!

As you’re working on building your admin/coach relationship, remember that you are not alone. If you get stuck, reach out. You can also check out these resources:

4 Helpful Hacks for Coaches When Working with Admin by Dr. Katie Ritter

Advice that Would Have Helped me in my First Year of Coaching by Maggie Harris

Ask the TechCoach

Restart Recharge Podcast


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