As I read through Joellen Killion’s article on “Are You Coaching Heavy or Light?”, I realized that so much depends on the receptiveness of the teacher you are coaching. Some teachers are very eager to collaborate and will come to you with ideas, while others are somewhat stuck in their ways and try to avoid the coach. Teachers want to do what is best for their students, but sometimes it is difficult to change routines to accommodate this and bringing in a coach definitely changes those routines. Getting into the classrooms to work with teachers is imperative, so sometimes coaching light is the way to develop the trust that is needed. “Sometimes, in order to build relationships and establish their credibility, coaches may compromise their influence by engaging in tasks that have limited potential for impact on teaching and learning.” Once that trust has been developed, it will be easier to start heavy coaching. Of course the end result we all want is to develop and improve student learning. Looking at student learning is the most important aspect of coaching heavy. “Coaching heavy holds all adults responsible for student success and engages them as members of collaborative learning teams to learn, plan, reflect, analyze, and revise their daily teaching practices based on student learning results.” Coaching heavy can help teachers to reflect more, as to whether it was a successful lesson or a lesson that needs more tweaking. Some teachers are able to do this more naturally, while others may need a coach to get them there.
The comments of the teachers of Walla Walla who saw coaching light and heavy as a “spiral with each revolution focussing more finitely on the target” made sense to me and is more aligned with how I see coaching happening. Blending the heavy and light to narrow the focus so there is an impact on both teaching and learning is key.