“How much time should a coach spend working with teachers?” is a question I’m asked. In my experience there is a relationship between the more time spent with teachers collaborating in the classroom and satisfaction in coaching work. When coaches spend a low percentage of their time working directly with teachers in their classrooms, it’s often because they are bogged down with coordinating assessments, writing curriculum, taking bus or recess duty, leading professional development and other projects that keep them out of classrooms. While these tasks can be part of meaningful work, if working with teachers is the exception not the rule, expected changes in instruction won’t happen.
Years ago when I read this article:
it was just in time for my practice. I’d done an analysis of how I was spending my time with the color coding I used on my calendar and found that about 31% of my time was working directly with teachers. Reading guiding principle #2 in particular, I saw that if I could increase my time to closer to 50% I’d be a teacher-oriented coach. With that explicit goal in mind, over the next year I increased both the number of teachers I worked with and the amount of time I spent in coaching cycles. That shift helped me see how our district’s coaching work could be sustainable over time. Currently I’m averaging about 55% of my time prebriefing, observing, transcribing, co-teaching, debriefing and looking at student work on site with teachers. When four hours of my day are in-the-moment teaching and learning with my colleagues and the other time is spent planning, reading research, rewriting units and lessons, organizing adult professional development and all the many tasks of coaching work, it feels like the right balance.
How is your time divided? What is sustainable for you?