Tag Archives: Coaching

Balancing the Principal Hat and the The Coaching Lens

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The following is adapted from Reclaiming the Principalship by Tom Marshall. 

A fine line is drawn when the principal, who is the primary evaluator of classroom practice, acts as the coach. Coaches work with teachers when teachers are most vulnerable: teaching often less-than-polished lessons; working toward new competencies, but not yet mastering them. If we want teachers to take risks and grow, we must learn to notice things with a different lens—a coaching lens.

This is tricky work. You never really can separate yourself, leaving the evaluative part outside when you enter the classroom. Just the same, you never really abandon the coaching part of you when you enter a classroom, either. Part of instructional leadership is knowing when to let each part of you take the lead.

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Principals, Coaches, and Teachers, Oh My!

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Written by Lucy West, author of Agents of Change


I recently received this question about coaching on my website:

Is it the coach's responsibility to report the teachers' flaws to the principal?  This "tattle-tailing" is not supportive of the teachers, especially after they are reprimanded by the principal because of the coach's report. This makes many teachers fearful of working with the coach. This is occurring at my school and many teachers are upset.

Remember, coaching in education is about improving teaching to improve student learning—it is not therapy. Coaching acknowledges that skillful teaching is complex. In order to master teaching so that ALL students learn well, teachers need to commit to their own learning throughout their careers. Learning is not always easy or comfortable, and coaches often become the scapegoats for the frustration and discomfort teachers feel when receiving feedback from colleagues or principals. Which is not to say that principals always handle situations with grace and wisdom. Principals are people, too. Sometimes they react rather than take time to investigate and carefully consider. Which is why it is critical to create a learning culture.

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Lorilee Cabrera Liberato: Amplifying Teachers’ Work

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Lorilee Cabrera Liberato is a Heinemann Fellow with the 2014–2016 class, and has been an educator for 15 years. Today, Lorilee tells the story of how an intentional effort at multicultural literacy produced an engaged and strong community.

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The Heinemann Fellows: Lorilee Cabrera on Coaching and Luck

Lorilee Cabrera is a Heinemann Fellow with the 2014–2016 class, and has been an educator for 15 years. In today's post, Lorilee discusses her luck as it intersects with hard work, good timing, and education.

by Lorilee Cabrera

When I reflect on my personal and professional lives, I can say I am very lucky.

I was lucky to have an intact, loving family while growing up as part of the population of Latinos moving between their native land and the U.S. in search of the American Dream.

I am lucky to be a first-generation high school and college graduate.

I was lucky not only to learn a second language but also to devote a decade of my life supporting students learning English in the same schools I did.

I am lucky to call Springfield, Massachusetts, my home. It is a culturally, socially, and economically diverse community. It is where I work and where my partner and I are raising our daughter.

And most recently, I am lucky to have been chosen to voice the story of the amazing professionals I support as a literacy coach in my district.

I have a secret, though. All of this “luck” isn’t just luck.

My luck exists at the intersection of hard work (mine and that of those around me), good timing, and education. Every important decision I have made has been influenced by the words and actions of educators and my amazing parents. Statistics don’t paint a bright picture for Latinas: dropout and teen pregnancy rates are high. However, the educators in my life helped me prove statistics wrong.

I have a secret, though. All of this "luck" isn't just luck

As educators, we have the responsibility to inspire students to dream bigger, beyond their current reality. My mission is to help the teachers I work with have the same effect on their students as the adults in my life had on me. When I plan with teachers, talk with them about the decisions they need to make, it’s because that’s what people did for me: asked me questions, valued my ideas, and challenged me to grow. My job isn’t to tell educators what to do. I provide choices for them, open my practice so they can learn from it and adapt it to their students’ needs.

As a Heinemann Fellow, I will take a close look at my role as an agent of change. As I work with teachers on ways they can support their students’ learning, I’ll be gathering and analyzing data about my coaching actions to determine which are most effective in creating real change in classrooms. I want to bring the kind of “luck” I benefited from to the teachers and kids I work with today, so that together we can start to better those statistics.

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Lorilee Cabrera is a Cornerstone Literacy Coach in Springfield, Massachusetts. Her action research focuses on effective coaching to promote and sustain practices and resources.

Please visit the Heinemann Fellows page to learn more.