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  • Sherry St. Clair

Dear Instructional Coach: Do You View Yourself as the Leader You Are?

Updated: Apr 27


Anytime we sit down to coach a teacher, we are asking her to trust us. We are asking her to join us on a vulnerable process of growth, where we will ask her to push herself farther than she thinks she can go. To take learning leaps of faith with us. To honestly assess her strengths and opportunities for improvement. 


All of us know how challenging, sometimes even scary it can be to self-assess and acknowledge we need to improve. Yet it takes enormous courage. It also takes great teachers, resources, and guides to help us make those improvements and grow.

As instructional coaches, we are those teachers, resources, and guides. Yet given the sensitivity of what we are asking teachers to do with us, we are so much more. 

I have long since said that truly great coaches are so much more than the title “coach” would have us believe. We are leaders. We are leading people on the vulnerable process of change.


Owning this capacity to lead is what, to me, can make the difference between a good coach and a great coach. A good coach know the coaching cycle inside and out. Good coaches know how to design powerful instruction around rigor, relevance, and learner engagement and will have a full and growing toolkit of instructional strategies. She will know how to assess teaching and have suggestions for improvement. She will know how to apply data to individualize instruction. In short, a good coach knows all the nuts and bolts of instructional coaching.


A great coach, though, knows that without first establishing trust and building mutually respectful relationships with everyone she coaches, those nuts and bolts simply do not matter.To be a great coach, we must fully step into our role as what we really are—leaders. When we do this, we redefine coaching in a way that includes and embraces the fullness of the instructional change and growth we can lead.


I believe in this so much—and I believe in YOU so much—that I wrote a book to help us redefine coaching. Its purpose is to help instructional coaches step fully into the space of leadership and guide teachers from there.

If we aren’t used to thinking of ourselves as leaders, this is a bit of a shift in how we view and approach our work. It also is a shift in thinking about the nature of the relationships we have with the teachers we coach. (I have touched on this in a recent blog post: Leading Versus Managing Instructional Growth.)

In my next blog post, I will share with you resources I go to regularly to learn about leadership and shore up my leadership capacity.

In the meantime, I ask you to reflect on your own coaching style and approach. ·    

* Do you consider yourself a leader?·    

* What might change if you begin to view yourself as much more than the title “coach”

suggests and embrace the leadership potential of your work? ·    

* What might be holding you back?·    

* What steps will you take to grow into the leader you are?

Stay tuned for more to begin a self-education in leadership philosophy and leadership skill development.


How can I help you?

Please connect with me so we can learn about instructional coaching together.  


Website: Reflective Learning, LLC

Twitter: @Sherrystclair

Facebook: Sherry St Clair

Instagram: Sherryst.clair

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