5 Ways to Talk to your Administrator about Coaching Data
Coaches are in a unique position when it comes to sharing out data and communicating with administrators. There is a fine line between supporting and evaluating and it is vital to the coach-teacher relationship that the evaluation line is not crossed. All communication between a coach and their administrator should be aimed to support teacher and student growth. Preparing coaching data and conversations around data in advance can help prevent coaches from feeling like an evaluator.
Evaluative conversations commonly arise because coaches have a behind-the-scenes look at what is happening in classrooms. Coaches get to work very closely with individual teachers and teams and are invited into classrooms on a regular basis. Therefore, coaching data often reflects teacher challenges, where additional supports are needed, and confidential conversations. It is not the role of the coach to share all of their data with their administrator. The coach’s role is to support teachers by being empathetic listeners and engaging in research-based strategies to support growth. At the same time, administrators should not be left in the dark when it comes to the coaching taking place on their campus. Conversations around data should take place in meaningful and impactful ways.
To help prepare conversations with administrators around coaching data, here are five strategies to get you started.
1: Create Data Compliments
Find the positive moments, the bright spots, the creative/innovative ideas, and share those out regularly. These share-outs are called data compliments. Data compliments can be shared in a weekly email to administrators, newsletter to staff, or any other means of getting the word out there for others to learn from and join in on the celebration. The focus of data compliments is to showcase the great things that are happening in your school. On a side note, others can “borrow” these ideas to try in their own classrooms.
When it comes to creating data compliments, it is important to get the teacher’s permission first. Although you are sharing a positive interaction or idea, asking permission will protect the coach-teacher relationship. Data compliments can be big or small and should reflect the teacher/team in a positive light.
Have a set schedule for creating and sharing out data compliments to ensure that they are ongoing.
2: Have Data Reflections
Specific conversations and interactions do not need to be shared with administrators, but data reflections should still take place. Scheduling a set time to meet with your site administrator on a regular basis will allow for genuine and productive reflections. During this time, it is the responsibility of the coach to own their data. This includes looking for gaps in coaching focuses and school goals, reflecting on where time is being allocated, and being able to articulate trends across coaching cycles. Engaging in these open reflections around coaching data with administrators will help both the coach-teacher relationship and the coach-administrator relationship grow.
3: Goal-Oriented Data
Create goals based on data reflections. After sharing data reflections with your administrator, it is time to bring S.M.A.R.T. goals into the conversation. Setting goals based on coaching data and sharing those goals with your administrator will open up the door for collaboration and support towards achieving your set goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals should include check-points throughout the year to check in on micro-goals and keep you on pace towards your overall goal.
Coaches who are new to the position might find value in waiting to set a S.M.A.R.T. goal until after completing one or two coaching cycles. This will ensure that the goals are focused on data and aligned with previous data reflection conversations. On the other hand, coaches who have been in their role for a while might choose to use data from the previous school year to set a S.M.A.R.T. goal at the beginning of an academic school year. Talk with your administrator to determine the right time to set your goals.
4: Implement Mailbox Data
Email is a powerful tool for sharing information and a great way to implement Mailbox Data. Scheduling a time to send key data pieces to administrators on a regular basis will help keep you accountable and your administrator informed. These emails can include a quick snapshot report of your interaction types, time spent coaching, and/or trending themes across the campus. Decide which information would be the most relevant to share out and how frequently you want to send your Mailbox Data.
Along with the snapshot report, you can choose whether or not a couple sentence overview would also be valuable. Keep in mind that this is meant to be a quick email and should not be taking up a large amount of time. If adding an overview seems overwhelming, skip it. Your overview can also be saved for when you have your scheduled data reflections. Keep your Mailbox data brief and consistent. On a side note, you can also schedule your emails to go out on a specific day and time so that you maintain consistency.
If your administrator’s inbox is flooded and you are afraid that your emails will be lost, set up a shared folder like a Google Drive folder or Teams/SharePoint folder. Within this shared folder you can add your snapshot reports along with supporting resources.
5: Share Data with Your Network
Build your coaching capacity and grow relationships with your network by sharing data trends. Collaborate with other coaches at your site, in your district, or through social media connections to grow and learn together. This type of networking should include big picture data talks and allow for open conversations to create new ideas and sparks of innovation. These strategies and creative ideas can be brought back to your data reflection conversations with your administrator and can support growth towards your S.M.A.R.T. goal(s).
Keep your administrator in the loop with your coaching data! Based on your conversations and share-outs, administrators can use your data to inform school and/or district initiatives. The end result can have a great impact for all students and teachers.
The following resources informed this post.
Hall, P. A., & Simeral, A. (2008). Chapter 2. The Coach–Administrator Partnership. In Building teachers’ capacity for success: a collaborative approach for coaches and school leaders. essay, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Hitt, S. (2019, January 17). Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals as an Educator. Achieve the Core Aligned Materials. https://achievethecore.org/aligned/setting-s-m-a-r-t-goals-as-an-educator/.