3 Reasons To Work With a School Leadership Coach
The pandemic upended school as we know it. And ready or not, we looked to technology to enable virtual schooling. This sudden acceleration of technology use in education not only revolutionized how students learn, but virtual professional learning and instructional coaching for educators became the norm.
Principals, tasked with leading schools remotely, turned to virtual leadership coaching to help them navigate new, pandemic-related challenges. While born out of necessity, virtual leadership coaching is becoming more common as the pressure of leading a school mounts. It’s flexible enough to fit into the most challenging of schedules. And, it’s just as effective as in-person coaching.
Putting you first
Technology adoption aside, the pandemic added a tremendous amount of responsibility to your plate. From contact tracing to solving for inequities in technology access to addressing extreme staffing shortages, no principal should have to shoulder these responsibilities alone. With your to-do list seemingly growing by the minute, your first thought may not be to invest in your own professional learning. Who has the time for that?
Let’s reconsider that thought. You are the glue that keeps your school together. A recent NEA report states that 55% of teachers plan to leave the profession sooner than expected. And principals are a major contributing factor in teacher retention. Principals create the culture and conditions in which teachers feel respected and motivated to put their best into high-quality instruction for students. By this logic, making time for your own professional learning is quite possibly the most crucial action you can take—for yourself and for the sake of your school community.
Enter: virtual leadership coaching
No matter the format, the benefits of leadership coaching are abundant. It pushes you beyond perceived barriers to student success, drives positive change in instruction, disrupts inequitable practices, and allows time and space to plan for immediate crises and inevitable challenges that lie ahead. A leadership coach provides the support and thought partnership you need to navigate the constantly changing education environment and still advance student achievement.
And, it works. Research shows that leadership coaching in a virtual format catalyzes principal growth and ownership of the instructional improvement process. And when coaching is rooted in student work, student outcomes are positively impacted when a leader engages in coaching. One principal and New Leaders alum from Guilford County, North Carolina, expressed that “the coaching time [with New Leaders] is valuable to improving my practice, and I cannot imagine working without it.”
Making time for your own professional learning is quite possibly the most crucial action you can take—for yourself and for the sake of your school community.
While this all sounds positive, we know school principals get pulled in many different directions on a daily basis. Fortunately, virtual leadership coaching removes some of the barriers that may have led you to put off coaching. Here are our top three reasons to invest in yourself through leadership coaching—without the guilt.
It won’t strain your resources
Time is our most valuable resource—especially now—so flexibility in scheduling (and rescheduling) is vital to a sustainable and effective coaching relationship. Leveraging technology for leadership coaching and your professional development avoids logistical hurdles, including travel and coach availability.
As a school principal, you’re called to attend to pressing needs at the last minute. A virtual coaching format allows you to call on your coach to help you respond in the moment. And, coaching can occur anywhere you have wifi. Time is spent where it matters most—supporting your well-being and professional success.
“The coaching time with New Leaders is valuable to improving my practice. I cannot imagine working without it.”
Principal, North Carolina
Virtual coaching sessions are also less expensive than in-person visits for both parties. When coaching is cost-effective for your district, you can repurpose funds for other much-needed school priorities.
Personally connect with your coach
Contrary to popular belief, personal connections can be fostered in virtual environments. With the right training, an effective coach is able to form trusting bonds in a virtual environment. “Having that trusted safe space where you can present a problem of practice and get immediate feedback from someone who is invested in your growth as a leader, that is the biggest benefit of coaching,” explains Courtney Torres, a New Leaders coach in California.
It’s no surprise that coaching is most effective when trust exists between coach and client. New Leaders coaches are trained in best practices for building relationships and rapport in a virtual environment. “I feel that my coach works well with me and is always extremely helpful in pushing my thinking and brainstorming with me,” shared a New Leaders coaching client from Chicago.
Just for you, right now
The nature of one-on-one coaching is to focus on your goals. And great coaches take the time to understand your context and provide targeted support amidst multiple priorities. Coaching is even more individualized in a virtual format, allowing you to engage in asynchronous communication with your coach. “I appreciate the ongoing, relevant communication from my coach,” reflects an assistant principal in Baltimore.
Plus, technology enhances and extends opportunities to individualize coaching, enabling you to consume supportive information at your own pace in advance of live coaching sessions. This shift towards blending asynchronous learning and synchronous coaching sessions promotes more productive conversations that deepen your understanding, foster greater collaboration, and support the transfer of learning to practice. All of which strengthens your leadership development.
A leadership coach holds up a mirror to help you improve decision-making, solve complex problems, and lead your school to greater heights—all while safeguarding your personal well-being.
Our coaches work with principals and assistant principals to co-construct a coaching goal on a self-identified priority area. For example, you might set a coaching goal around developing a particular leadership skill to help your team drive improved outcomes. You might want to improve your ability to use a range of data sources to support strategic decision-making or address inequities within your school community.
In each coaching session, a New Leaders coach uses a cycle of inquiry to prompt deep thinking, reflection, and problem-solving to move principals and assistant principals closer to their personal and professional growth goals. “New Leaders coaching is exceptional and very helpful,” said a coaching client from the Rural Alliance in Washington state.
Unprecedented challenges call for doing things differently. Perhaps one bright spot in the ongoing pandemic is that it expanded access to virtual coaching support for school leaders in a time when it's needed most. A leadership coach holds up a mirror to help you improve decision-making, solve complex problems, and lead your school to greater heights—all while safeguarding your personal well-being. Isn’t it time you invested in yourself?