But with coaching, I had no idea what to expect. I had read the books and the blogs, and had put together my idea of what those first few days / weeks would look like. Within that, I had been warned that the move from the classroom to a coaching role can be isolating and lonely. This turns out to be very true.
In my case, I watched my old team of colleagues meeting and planning without me. Knowing how much they had to get done, I tried not to bother them. All the coaching books say to meet with your principal in the first few weeks to discuss your coaching vision and how you will work together. My principal was lucky to find 5 minutes to briefly chat logistics with me. And while the teachers and students were getting to know each other in those first days of classes, I walked the halls by myself, trying not to get in anyone’s way.
Set up a space
In my own classroom, I got to decorate four walls with adorable posters, pennants, and decor. Now as a coach I’m traveling between buildings, and within those buildings, I’ll be traveling between classrooms. I do have a desk at the district office, so I went ahead and made that a little personal space (even though I won’t be there very much). I did the same at the building where I will be doing most of my work. While it’s certainly not a whole classroom, at least in this way I feel I belong in the school where I’m coaching, even if I’m not at my desk all that often. If you will have a homebase, spend a little time adding a personal touch to it. It will help increase that feeling of belonging.
I didn’t want to go into classrooms and step on anyone’s toes during that first week, when teachers are dealing with attendance and roster issues, reinforcing behavioral and classroom procedures, and learning about their new students. So I focused on what I could do - planning professional development activities. Without other people pulling me in a million directions, I was able to concentrate on pulling resources and putting together some really interesting professional development sessions. I find this work really interesting, so it helped the days fly by. Is there a long-term project or peripheral activity that your job entails that you could work on during these first days? You’ll be able to give it more focused attention, and if the work interests you it will help you forget about the other school-wide activities happening without you.
Make connections where you can
Wherever I could, I caught up with old colleagues and reconnected with teachers who I had relationships with last year. As a coach, I thought this was important to keep friendly and positive relationships with all the math teachers I had worked with last year. But I also want to remain a positive member of the school staff, so I joined in the staff development ice-breaker activities and gossiped with old colleagues about happenings over the summer. Even though your new role may redefine your working relationship with people, make sure you keep those friendly contacts. Or if you’re new to a building, find moments to get to know the teachers and staff on a casual and friendly level. Wander the halls in the morning and transition times, and eat in the teachers’ lounge to find people during their down times.
The weeks have been slow at times, but these strategies have helped me keep my mind off the clock and the loneliness of those first few days. I finally get to start seeing teachers in their classes Monday, and I can’t wait!
Have you transitioned to a new role within your school? Are there other strategies you can suggest to help us newbies with the transition?