My high school added an instructional coach position this past school year. An instructional coach is a supporting role for teachers – guiding teachers through the coaching cycle or model. Click here to view the Future Ready Instructional Coach Framework. The principal envisioned the instructional coach would become a team with the library staff. The two school librarians were involved in the process to help define this role. Click here to view an earlier post about adding an instructional coach.
The building principal, school librarians, and instructional coach created the following structure for a positive team environment.
- The coach and the librarians shared an office in the school library.
- The coach and school librarians met twice a month for 20 minutes.
- The instructional coach was available on the library floor to help answer questions when not working in classrooms or meetings.
- The coach and school librarians can meet with classroom teachers during team meetings before school.
- Both the coach and lead librarian were on the building leadership team.
In the earlier blog post about adding a coach, I was concerned about the overlap of duties – we collaborate, design lessons, provide technology support, embed technology into lessons, and work with teachers on just about anything. It is easy to feel fearful about losing our relationships with teachers or feel competitive that we are missing out on working with teachers.
We had to adjust our mindset away from the coach versus the librarians and recognize that teachers need help from all of us. We have 130 classroom teachers and over 1700 students. We are busy in the school library, from collaborating with teachers to delivering instruction. “Enough room for everyone at the table” became a motto for the librarians.
Communication became a critical component for this team. The scheduled meetings were a first step to strengthening our communication. We discussed teacher requests and upcoming projects.
Emails were also a part of the communication strategy. If a teacher reached out to one of us, we would cc: the rest of the team in our response. Adding the group to emails was a helpful way to keep everyone in the communication loop.
We were open about the overlap in roles impacting the school library. For example, the instructional coach attended a social studies team meeting that discussed a district writing assessment with a research component. He was able to take notes and gather information providing input. The coach referred the team to utilize the school librarians for several pieces. The coach then discussed what he learned with the librarians at the next meeting. Later, the social studies team contacted the school librarians to schedule time and review the project.
At our next scheduled meeting with the instructional coach, we discussed how important it is for school librarians to create the research component with the classroom teachers as much as delivering the instruction. We discussed how the coach could text the librarians to see if we are available to join the social studies team meeting.
This example is one of many where we focused on open communication between team members. Open communication remains essential to the school librarian and instructional coach team as we enter the second year.
How do you work with the instructional coach in your building?
What are some ways you improve communication?
Author: Becca Munson
Becca Munson, Librarian, is a National Board Certified Teacher with over 24 years of experience in education. Becca is the Coordinator for Library Systems in the Blue Valley School District. Previously, she was school librarian at Blue Valley West High School. She opened two buildings in Blue Valley and spent some time as an Ed Tech Specialist before returning to libraries. Becca supports over 45 librarians and support staff as they work to fulfill the mission of flexible scheduling, collaboration, and literacy.