The Value of a Coach

“Why does our school need an instructional coach? If our teachers need coaching, they shouldn’t be here!” 

This was a comment by a school board member at a previous school. Much could be said in response to this perspective on education, but I want to briefly share some thoughts on the statement. The truth is, teachers are professionals and professionals in many fields benefit from the expertise and perspectives of coaches.

As a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan, I still follow the career of Albert Pujols – arguably the greatest right-handed hitting baseball player of all-time. In the post-game conference after tying Willie Mays for 5th on the all-time homerun list, Pujols credited his hitting coaches with helping him make adjustments prior to the historic achievement. Albert Pujols, also known as “The Machine,” still finds value from utilizing coaches. It’s what professionals do. Tom Brady has a quarterback coach. Tiger Woods benefits from golf coaches. Being coached is not reserved for the less talented. Being coached is about moving from where we are to some place better. 

Teaching should be no different. The expertise of a good instructional coach is invaluable, and a good one can take teaching to higher levels. When this happens, a teacher’s impact improves through increased and deeper student learning. 

Just like professional athletes, teachers should continue growing no matter how many years they’ve been in their profession. Risk-taking and lifelong learning should be modeled in every classroom.

Truthfully, each one of us in education, no matter our role, should make learning, reflecting, and growing a part of our what we do. It’s the only way to keep providing students a high-quality education. For teachers, instructional coaches are able to help facilitate this in a high-quality manner that is non-threatening and non-evaluative. They also help protect us from complacency and status quo.  

Being coached is what professionals do. 

Doug Dunn is currently athletic director and junior high principal for the Licking (MO) School District. He has previously served as a K-8 superintendent and elementary principal. Doug can be found on Twitter at DougDunnEdS.